No need to worry – Las Vegas Aces are still Las Vegas Aces

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

If there is one recent clip from a Las Vegas Aces game (or pre- or post-game) that should encompass why one should not worry about the team, it may be this one. 

That is what a leader does. 

That is what a champion does. 

That is what a face of the WNBA does – and A’ja Wilson fits the bill for all of the aforementioned three. 

When a team is a two-time defending champion, that of course will put a target on said team’s back. There are 11 other teams that want to be where the Aces are – meaning Las Vegas will get an opposing team’s best game in and game out. 

As of this writing, the Aces are a somewhat un-Aces like 6-6 and have had some uncharacteristic losses to teams such as the Atlanta Dream and Phoenix Mercury – both currently behind Vegas in the standings. 

Prior to the All-Star break last year, only two teams had picked up victories over the Aces – the Dallas Wings and the Connecticut Sun. When a defending champion’s record denotes it is playing .500 basketball as is the case with the Aces, it is common to ask if Las Vegas has been leapfrogged by other teams. 

But there really is no reason to worry for several reasons. 

First of all, we have not seen what the Aces truly look like because they have not played for much of the season without Chelsea Gray. One has to remember that Point Gawd Gray is the veteran glue that holds the Aces together. She is older and has more years under her belt than Wilson, Kelsey Plum or Jackie Young. 

Also, prior to Gray becoming part of the dynasty that is the Aces, she won a championship in 2016 with the Los Angeles Sparks. If it is one thing she knows how to do, it is win championships and be part of winning teams. 

The second reason why one must not worry about the Aces is – has anyone seen the numbers Wilson has posted as of late? 

Wilson is anything but the reason why Las Vegas has been in the loss column as of late. She has followed up winning last year’s WNBA Finals MVP by making another strong case for regular season MVP this year. It is as if whoever that mystery fourth place MVP voter was gave Wilson a mountain of bulletin board material. 

Speaking of Wilson, she along with the rest of the Las Vegas Core Four were named to the USA Basketball Olympic Team for the upcoming Olympics in Paris. Gray is almost certain to be healthy prior to when the flame is ignited at Paris’ Olympic cauldron. Perhaps that Core Four being on the same court together battling for a gold medal could be what the Aces need to give the team a surge of momentum following the Olympic break. 

And also, the last two games that the Aces have played are an indication that the ship may about to be righted even before Gray sports Vegas silver and black once again. Las Vegas dug itself a hole on the road at the Phoenix Mercury, but managed a successful and ferocious comeback that saw the Aces defeat Phoenix by a final score of 103-99. 

Another monster game from Wilson (32 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks) along with one courtesy of Young (34 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal) powered Vegas to its sixth victory of the season. 

Not to mention the shorthanded Aces only losing by single digits to a New York Liberty team that may have the claim currently on the “best team in the WNBA” mantle at this point. Even in the defeat, the Aces still got 20-point performances via Plum and Wilson. 

We have to remember that these are still the two-time defending champions. We must also remember that three years ago, the Chicago Sky won a championship despite going 16-16 in the regular season. 

All the Aces have to do is make it to the playoffs which is a near guarantee. Then throw records and seedings out the window because Becky Hammon’s team certainly knows how to up its game when it is time to “Raise The Stakes.”