Where they finished last season: 14-20 (did not qualify)
Roster additions: Liz Cambage; Dearica Hamby; Sydney Colson; Jackie Young; Sugar Rodgers
Roster losses: Moriah Jefferson; Isabelle Harrison; Nia Coffey
In his 1999 novel ‘Invisible Monsters’, writer Chuck Palahniuk describes Las Vegas’ aesthetic as ‘the way you’d imagine heaven must look at night.’ The narrator in the book feels shackled by her gifts rather than empowered. If social media is anything to go by, this sentiment was echoed throughout the offseason by Vegas’ marquee signing Liz Cambage who is now preparing to catapult the Aces toward basketball heaven in Nevada.
The Cambage trade saga was lengthy but concluded in May, just under two weeks before the regular season was set to begin. The 27-year-old Australian was brought in from the Dallas Wings, in exchange for Moriah Jefferson and friend of Double Clutch UK, Isabelle Harrison, which spelled the beginning of #VivaLizVegas. Cambage is unquestionably one of the most dangerous centers in basketball and led the league in scoring with 23 points per game last time out, while averaging 9.7 rebounds. When fully engaged, the All-WNBA big is as dominant as it gets.
In a lower-profile trade, the Aces also acquired six-year guard Sugar Rodgers from the New York Liberty. The Georgetown graduate will not only provide the Aces marketing department with an abundance of creative word-play opportunities; the will create space on the floor for head coach Bill Laimbeer’s team with her long-range shooting and versatility. Heading to Atlanta in what was a three-team trade was second-year forward Nia Coffey.
Not often will a team trade for one of the biggest names in the sport just a month after using the #1 pick in the draft but here we are. With their third first overall selection in a row, the Aces selected Jackie Young from Notre Dame. Competing for the Irish last season, she averaged 14.7 points, at an impressive clip of 52%. She was one of the only few true triple threat weapons in this year’s draft, which she proved when she scored 16 in her preseason debut for the team.
Young joins the unanimous 2018 Rookie of the Year and first-year All-Star in A’ja Wilson in Vegas, who was selected #1 a year ago. Unlike her new teammate, Wilson was expected to lead the worst team in league upon her arrival and produced an incredible season in the circumstances. The Carolina native scored double figures in every single game and logged ten double-doubles throughout the year. In addition, 2017 #1 pick Kelsey Plum continues to improve as one of the team’s primary wing threats. The combination of this trio would have been enough to whet Aces fans appetites, even before the blockbuster trade.
Re-signing with the team was Dearica Hamby, who shot a career-best 52% from the field last year, averaging 7.4 points per game. She is considered to be a solid contributor to the team and has consistently improved throughout her 4 years in the W.
Someone who will not feature this year is Australian guard Lindsay Allen, who recently underwent successful knee surgery. The loss is unfortunate for the Aces as Allen provided great stability for the team In 2018 and averaged an amazing 18.2 points, while pulling down 5.3 assists for the Melbourne Boomers last winter.
This team have multiple * ahem * aces up their sleeve. With three high-upside young assets and a once-in-a-generation star at center, the expectations will have come skyrocketed from previous years. The Aces will walk into the season with a lofty presence and that doesn’t phase them; they believe the rebuild is over and that they have arrived.
Palahniuk described the strip in the desert as heavenly because of it’s blinding neon and the searing buzz in the air. If the Aces can fulfil what many believe to be their 2019 destiny, the lights of Mandalay Bay and the star of Liz Cambage will burn the brightest.