Las vegas aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

FSM Presents: Las Vegas Aces 2022 Preview: Centers

Franchise Sports Media

 

FSM’s Cole Huff concludes our Las Vegas Aces preseason coverage with the final iteration of his player preview series. This in-depth roster rundown turns to the centers.

 

 

THERESA PLAISANCE:

 

 

Theresa Plaisance - Aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

BIO:

Age: 29

Measurements: 6’5”, 200lbs

Years Pro: 8

Season Stats: 2021 → 6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 threes, on 35.1/30.2/81.5 shooting splits

2021 SEASON RECAP:

The 2021 season was arguably Plaisance’s best, at least statistically. She carved out a decent spot in the Mystics‘ rotation and put forth career highs in rebounds (4.4) and assists per game (1.4) while scoring better than 6.0 points per game for only the second time in her career.

STRENGTHS:

One of Plaisance’s biggest strengths is her ability to space the floor as a big. She’s only been dominant from deep in just one of her WNBA seasons, when she shot 47.4 percent in 2018 with the Dallas Wings. But she still at least gives defenses something to think about. Plaisance will ideally help open up the court for Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray to attack while providing space for A’ja Wilson to operate inside.

Plaisance is also 6’5″, 200lbs. She’s no lockdown post-defender, but her sheer size should prove helpful in sparing Wilson from matching up with bigger players and potentially getting into foul trouble. She’s a perfect body to have for most emergency situations.

WEAKNESSES:

There isn’t much to Plaisance’s game outside of shooting threes. I suppose she proved to be a solid rebounder a year ago in the minutes she played, but she’s not a great playmaker for others, doesn’t get to the free-throw line, and is inefficient as a scorer. Most of her success is dependent on whether or not she’s making threes.

POTENTIAL ROLE:

Kiah Stokes, last season’s part-time starter when Liz Cambage was inactive, will arrive at the Aces after the season starts due to overseas commitments. Plaisance is probably the starting center if head coach Becky Hammon chooses to roll out a dual-big lineup. But if Plaisance comes off the bench, she should still provide quality minutes as a rebounder and floor-spacer in her minutes.

 

 

KIAH STOKES:

 

Kiah Stokes - Aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

BIO:

Age: 29

Measurements: 6’3”, 191 lbs

Years Pro: 6

Season Stats: 2021 → 1.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 blocks on 57.1/ 50.0/66.7 shooting splits.

Playoffs Stats: 2021 → 1.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.4 steals on 40.0/ 0.0/ 50.0 shooting splits

2021 SEASON RECAP:

Stokes started the 2021 season in New York with the Liberty before joining and finishing with the Aces. She started eight of 15 regular-season games with Vegas and averaged 20.5 minutes per game.

STRENGTHS:

There isn’t much to say about Kiah Stokes, the basketball player, other than she knows her role. She’s an excellent rebounder on both the offensive and defensive end and provides solid defense at the center position. She’s not WNBA All-Defense caliber, but her impact is felt in those areas when on the court.

WEAKNESSES:

Stokes hardly provides anything on the offensive end; she barely shoots the ball. The Aces are basically playing four vs. 5 when Kiah is out there, hoping that she’ll grab an offensive rebound and create extra possessions.

POTENTIAL ROLE:

New Aces head coach Becky Hammon has been all about implementing the 3-point shot and bringing a more modern style of basketball to Las Vegas. Kiah Stokes does not fit those molds, so it’s hard to see her have that big of a role on this team. She’ll play a few minutes every game, and we should expect that she continues to crash the glass and be a serviceable role player.

 

 

A’JA WILSON:

 

A'ja Wilson - Aces
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

BIO:

Age: 25

Measurements: 6’4”, 195 lbs

Years Pro: 4

Season Stats: 2021 → 18.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 blocks, 0.9 steals on 44.4/ 100.0/ 87.6 shooting splits

Playoffs Stats: 2021 → 14.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.0 steals on 43.5/ 0.0/ 65.4 shooting splits

2021 SEASON RECAP:

A’ja Wilson was excellent in 2021. Not quite on par with her 2020 MVP season, but still good. Her numbers took a slight dip thanks to Liz Cambage being back in the lineup and the Aces having so many contributors on the roster. Still, she contributed well on both ends of the floor and even made a jump in a few specific areas. More on that later.

STRENGTHS:

Wilson is on the shortlist of WNBA players that you can throw the ball to in the post and expect to make a play consistently. When in the low post, she uses her body well to power through and use footwork for layups. Wilson usually faces up in the mid and high posts and uses her smooth left-handed jump shot to punish the defense. But last season, she took a step forward as a playmaker— mostly coming from the high post. A’ja’s development in that area should expand even further, presuming that she’ll be surrounded by shooters and will have more room to operate.

And, of course, Wilson remains good on defense. She’s not an elite defender on the perimeter, but she handles switches enough. And in the paint, she does a good job making defenders finish over her length.

WEAKNESSES:

This is the year that Wilson needs to develop a 3-point shot. While she’s good from 15 feet and in, defenses have been able to make her looks increasingly more difficult in playoff settings over the past few years. Being able to pick-and-pop and even space to the corners or trail into threes would keep all of the additional bodies away and offer her some cleaner looks. We’ll see if Coach Hammon can get A’ja to be this player.

POTENTIAL ROLE:

Whatever is the highest possible role you can imagine — the one A’ja Wilson will be playing. She’s not far removed from her MVP season and hasn’t even entered her prime. Expect to see Wilson wear many different hats and be successful in every one of her significant roles.

 

That concludes our player preview series for the 2022 WNBA season. The Aces open up their season on Friday, May 6th, on the road against the Phoenix Mercury. Coverage will begin at 7 p.m. PST on NBA TV.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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