A’ja Wilson is on track to become the best player in the WNBA
By Nicholas LeTourneau
When A’ja Wilson was drafted number one overall by the newly founded Las Vegas Aces, pretty much everyone knew she was destined for good things. She entered the league as one of the most decorated women in college basketball, winning SEC player of the year three times, was the most outstanding player in the NCAA tournament as she led South Carolina to a national championship, and won every major individual award her senior season en route to becoming the all-time leading scorer in South Carolina history.
All she knows how to do is succeed on a basketball court. Now tasked with rising a new franchise from the ashes of the San Antonio Stars, she is not only looking up to the challenge but also like she will be one of, if not the best player in the league sooner than later.
The WNBA is no stranger to having stars develop early in their career fresh out of college and see instant success but the way A’ja Wilson is dominating feels like something very special. Just check out some of her game logs from this season:
27 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists
26 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks
35 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks
21 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists
25 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists
20 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks
In 14 career games she has failed to score under 15 points only three times. She has gone toe-to-toe with some of the best players in the league like Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles while not only looking like their equal but someone who could be better than they are in the near future. A look at her advanced stats show just how good Wilson is.
Even though Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum are back on the roster, Las Vegas relies heavily on working the ball into A’ja Wilson for its offensive production. This leads to both more opportunities for Wilson to score and forces her to take shots at inopportune times or places on the floor.
She currently averages 0.989 point per possession overall, which is pretty good when compared to the rest of the league. Over 61 percent of her offensive production comes from three shot types: post ups, spot ups, and as the P&R roller.
An overwhelming amount of her shot attempts come from posting up, just over 33 percent, and she surprisingly ranks around league average as far as points per possession. This is most likely due to the sheer number of attempts she takes and how WNBA defenses are keyed into her post ups. I’m pretty sure every coach in the league knows how/where Bill Laimbeer likes to get his offense from and how to slow it down. Thankfully for the Aces, A’ja Wilson is so good that she can still be effective as a scorer even as teams game plan around how to stop her specially.
One of her most efficient scoring methods comes from spot up shots. Over 16 percent of her offense is generated from by it and she ranks towards the top of the league in points per possession in this category, generating 1.023 PPP. Wilson has a very pretty midrange jumper that is pretty automatic from inside the three-point line. Hopefully one day she will be able to extend that shot to beyond the three-point line.
As the P&R roller, she gets a lot of looks but doesn’t convert the looks at a high rate. She ranks below average in points per possession and it is for sure an area of her game that she can polish up. Defenses in the WNBA are pretty good at defending the P&R because of how prevalent of an offensive scheme it is and Wilson gets a little over 13 percent of her offense from these looks. As she ages, finishing off these looks be an area of her game that will most likely improve and take her to the next level.
Two areas that she is absolutely dominate at as far as scoring goes is off screen and in isolation. Combined, they account for roughly 10 percent of her offense but she is already elite when it comes to scoring in these areas. She generates 1.278 PPP off screens and 1.235 PPP in isolation, which is excellent in comparison to the rest of the WNBA.
Las Vegas’ future is bright with A’ja Wilson at the helm. She will only get better with age and I truly think that within 2-3 years we will be talking about how she is the best player in the WNBA.