We still do not have an exact date for the start of the 2021 WNBA season, but one thing is for sure: When the season starts, the Las Vegas Aces are going to be a serious title threat.
The Aces made the WNBA Finals in 2020, which was just their third year in Las Vegas. While they ultimately fell to the Seattle Storm in three games, the pieces are in place to make another run at a championship.
Free Agency Activity
Added: Chelsea Gray (UFA from Los Angeles), Riquna Williams (UFA from Los Angeles)
Lost: Kayla McBride (UFA to Minnesota), Carolyn Swords (retired), Danielle Robinson (UFA to Indiana), Lindsay Allen (traded to Indiana)
Make no mistake, the Aces lost some significant talent in free agency. Thankfully, the additions of Gray and Williams offset the departures.
Gray, in particular, is a huge signing. She has strong playmaking tendencies, which is exactly what head coach Bill Lambier’s offense needed.
Gray can run the floor, and her career three-point shooting percentage of 38.5% gives them another scoring option from deep. She is a three-time All-Star and won a WNBA championship with Los Angeles in 2016.
Williams is a viable bench piece who can shoot from outside, as well. In fact, her 43 3-pointers made in 2020 were far more than any of the Aces. Her presence makes the team’s second unit much more versatile on offense.
Some Familiar Faces Return
The biggest boost to the Aces’ title hopes will be the return of some of their injured players.
Do not forget, even though the Aces made it all the way to the WNBA Finals, they were nowhere near full strength.
All-Star center Liz Cambage opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. The 6-foot-8 Australian averaged 15.9 points and 8.2 rebounds for the Aces in 2019.
She is still without an official contract, but the team cored her for the 2021 season. The general expectation is that she will be back on the court once the two sides agree to a deal.
The Aces also have starting point guard Kelsey Plum coming back after she missed the entire 2020 season with a torn Achilles tendon. The 26-year-old is a great finisher around the rim but also possesses a serious pull-up game from mid-range.
Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby will also be back after missing the WNBA Finals with a knee injury. With her, Cambage and Plum, the Aces are returning a star-studded cast to an already deep roster.
Las Vegas Aces 2021 Champions?
It is too early to jump to any conclusions, but the Aces certainly look daunting on paper.
Now, a lot hinges on Cambage’s return. Currently, the Aces have the third-best title odds on both FanDuel and DraftKings sportsbooks.
Until there is clarity on the All-WNBA center’s return, there is some reason for skepticism. Nevertheless, adding her to a core that already features 2020 MVP A’ja Wilson is an enticing proposition.
Even without Cambage, this is a team that went 18-4 last year. They are clearly one of the best squads in the WNBA heading into 2021.
It is truly looking like a championship-or-bust year in Las Vegas.