LOS ANGELES — The Las Vegas Aces’ current 19-2 record is the best in the WNBA, but they wouldn’t be here without the joy they find in their process.
“It sounds cliche, but we really do have good people on our team,” Aces guard Sydney Colson said before last week’s game against the Los Angeles Sparks. “I think we all bring joy and excitement not just about basketball, but about life in general. You mix that all together on one team and then you just see what the product is.”
And the product that the Aces put out is nothing short of fun.
The team is stacked with the league’s top talent — anybody has a chance of stepping up in any given game. The shots are always falling as the Aces hold the league’s highest 3-point percentage and field-goal percentage. A’ja Wilson, the league’s reigning MVP, leads the league in blocks, while Kelsey Plum leads in steals.
“They are full of life and they pump life into anybody that walks in the gym,” Aces head coach Becky Hammon said. “That’s why people want to come watch them play.”
The July 12 game against the Aces was the Sparks’ second-most attended home game of the season, just behind the home opener that featured the highly anticipated return of Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner. The Aces drew a crowd of 8,085 fans, with celebs like Knicks forward Obi Toppin and Real Madrid midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni showing up to watch the WNBA’s top team. Although the Aces were playing an away game, plenty of red jerseys could be spotted against the purple-and-gold backdrop of Crypto.com Arena.
The success of the Aces has also helped increase interest in the WNBA. This year’s All-Star Game, which was held in Las Vegas and featured four Aces players, was the most-watched one in 16 years.
While the interest in the Aces is growing, Hammon and her team believe they still have work to do before this current roster can be etched in WNBA history.
“At the end of the day, I know what we want to build,” Hammon said. “How others perceive it or appreciate it is not really up to us. But, we need to win a few more championships before we start to even have the conversation.”
While the Aces have only one title, they’re favored to go back-to-back. The reigning WNBA champions need only seven more wins to match their 2022 regular season win total. The 2023 season consists of a record 40 games, up from 36 last year. The Aces have 19 more games to play post-All Star break.
Besides their pure skill, Las Vegas has a leg up for reasons outside of basketball. The Aces opened their new headquarters and practice facility at the beginning of the 2023 season, a rarity in the WNBA.
The facility boasts features like a weight and training room, cryotherapy, a nutrition bar and lockers with TVs for each player. Features that are standard for most NBA facilities.
While the Aces’ state-of-the-art facility currently gives them a competitive edge, other teams are starting to catch on. The Seattle Storm has plans for a new facility to be built by the 2024 season, and other teams could follow.
If the Aces continue to tear up the league, then they could be the next great basketball dynasty. They already have the talent, the facilities and the fans to be one.
While the city of Las Vegas has embraced this franchise, the larger benefit of the Aces’ success is increased exposure and interest in the WNBA and women’s basketball.