Las vegas aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

FSM Presents: Las Vegas Aces 2022 Preview: Forwards

Franchise Sports Media

 

FSM’s Cole Huff continues our Las Vegas Aces coverage for the 2022 season with his player preview series. This in-depth roster rundown turns to the forwards.

 

 

MYA HOLLINGSHED:

 

 

Mya Hollingshed - Aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

BIO:

Age: 23

Measurements: 6’3”, 160lbs

Years Pro: 0

Season Stats: 2021 (NCAA) → 14.1 points, 7.64 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 threes, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks on 44.4/41.7/92.0 shooting splits

2021 SEASON RECAP:

Mya Hollingshed ended her collegiate career by stuffing the stat sheet for a fourth consecutive season. While her super-senior season at Colorado wasn’t quite as statistically dominant as her fourth, she made gigantic leaps as a floor-spacing big, which is likely what got her drafted at No. 8 overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft.

STRENGTHS:

Although the efficient 3-point shooting appeared in only two of her five collegiate seasons, Holingshed‘s 39.6 percent from deep during her fifth season is what seems to be her strength on offense. She made 53 of them in her most recent season, adding another dimension to her offensive game. But at 6’3″, Hollingshed‘s ability to move her feet and contest shots is an essential skill that she could potentially bring to Las Vegas — giving her positional versatility on the defensive end.

WEAKNESSES:

Mya is a bit of a tweener. She’s 6’3″ but isn’t quite a traditional big and isn’t necessarily a wing, either. She’s somewhere in the middle, which could complicate things to starting her career. More than anything else, her frame might be the most significant area of weakness, though. I can’t quite see Hollingshed having the weight or strength to battle down low with the WNBA‘s bigs. But maybe she evolves into a Natasha Howard kind of hybrid big that becomes elite over time.

POTENTIAL ROLE:

Regardless of how Becky Hammon chooses her starting five, Hollingshed will probably begin as a backup behind either the power forward or center position. It’s easy to imagine her subbing in later in the fourth quarter for one of A’ja Wilson, Dearica Hamby, or Kiah Stokes. She’ll play limited minutes and a smaller role in Year 1.

 

 

KIERSTAN BELL:

 

Kierstan Bell - Aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

BIO:

Age: 22

Measurements: 6’1”, 176 lbs

Years Pro: 0

Season Stats: 2021 (NCAA) → 22.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.1 Steals, 1.8 blocks on 47.2/ 28.6/70.2 shooting splits.

 

2021 SEASON RECAP:

Kierstan Bell‘s 2021 season was the best of her three-year career, which is impressive considering how good she was in 2020. She was as efficient of a scorer as ever and grew more potent on the defensive end.

STRENGTHS:

Bell is somewhat of a matchup nightmare. At least she was at FGCU. She uses her size to her advantage when guarded by smaller guards, and her handle to her benefit in creating looks off the bounce, where she can fill it up from mostly everywhere on the court. The other parts of her offensive skillset that make Bell a special player is her ability to play in transition while also being a reliable spot-up shooter and pick-and-roll player in the halfcourt.

WEAKNESSES:

Bell spent a good portion of her defensive possessions guarding post players while in college. It’s hard to see that happening in the WNBA, being that she’s 6’1.″ But that means she’ll be on the perimeter where her footspeed will be in question. And on the offensive end, she needs to be more efficient. Her 28.8 3-point percentage won’t fly if she’s going to be counted on to shoot a bunch.

POTENTIAL ROLE:

You never really know how to project a rookie who is going into a proven, veteran championship team. But ultimately, it feels like Bell will begin as an 8-10 minute per night player. And as she grows on both ends of the court, there’s potential for her to carve out an excellent role on a nightly basis.

 

 

DEARICA HAMBY:

 

Dearica Hamby - Aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

BIO:

Age: 29

Measurements: 6’3”, 189 lbs

Years Pro: 7

Season Stats: 2021 → 11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists on 54.5/ 25.0/ 65.5 shooting splits

Playoffs Stats: 2021 → 3.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists on 29.2/ 0.0/ 50.0 shooting splits

2021 SEASON RECAP:

Dearica Hamby‘s 2021 season felt like one that was mismanaged by the coaching staff. She played her fewest minutes since 2018, and as a result, her impact wasn’t as significant as in prior seasons when she won the Sixth Woman of the Year Award. Her value as a defender and rebounder was especially missed in the playoffs, where she averaged just 3.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game.

STRENGTHS:

Hamby is a jack of all trades. She is tall, athletic, and mobile enough to guard multiple positions on defense and skilled enough as a shooter, ball-handler, and passer to fulfill various roles on the offensive side. Having someone like her will be crucial for the Aces and their adaptability.

WEAKNESSES:

For as good as she is, Hamby has got to be better in her non-two-point shots — she shot 25.0 percent from three and below 70 percent from the line in 2021. Dearica has proven to be a more efficient player than that throughout her career. Still, the inefficiencies of last season will remain a thing until she confirms otherwise.

POTENTIAL ROLE:

Is it starting small forward? Or is it starting power forward? Sixth woman? It’s hard to tell what the plan of action will be for Hamby under first-year head coach Becky Hammon. Nonetheless, expect Dearica to play a significant role this season. She’ll be one of the most important players for Vegas in 2022.

 

Stay tuned for the conclusion of the Las Vegas Aces 2022 Season Preview series when we look at Theresa Plaisance, A’ja Wilson, and Kiah Stokes.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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