The new WNBA team in Las Vegas will have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, in addition last year's No. 1 overall pick, so the team will start its new life in Sin City with a roster full of talent and a head coach that knows what to do with that kind of potential. That makes it a very exciting moment in franchise history for the WNBA organization now located in Vegas, the newly rechristened Las Vegas Aces.
New Head Coach Bill Laimbeer is the right leader to move this team up in the league standings and back into the playoffs after the last three rough seasons in San Antonio. Laimbeer previously won two NBA titles as a player with the Detroit Pistons and three WNBA championships as the coach of the Detroit Shock. The team will play its home games at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and you can put down a deposit right now for season tickets right here on AXS.com.
In a 12-team WNBA, eight teams make the postseason, and the other five teams in the Western Conference all made the playoffs last year. Laimbeer has his work cut out for him, so what kind of roster will he have to work with in Las Vegas? Last year's squad won just eight games, despite the presence of rookie Kelsey Plum, the all-time NCAA scoring leader and last year's No. 1 overall pick. Plum will be joined by another No. 1 overall pick in the spring, so there's that chance to immediately boost the talent level on the roster.
Despite the unsuccessful 2017 season, the Aces roster has talent: Shooting guard Kayla McBride led the team with 15.4 points per game (14th in the WNBA overall) and 1.1 steals per game (24th), while adding 2.6 assists per game (30th). She was the third overall pick in the 2014 draft when the franchise was located in San Antonio. Playing the point, Plum added 8.5 ppg and 3.4 apg (20th) to go along with a .365 shooting percentage (16th) on three-point shots. Those latter two numbers led the team last season.
The backcourt duo is the strength of the roster, although some other players contributed well to the team's all-around efforts. Center Isabelle Harrison led the team in both rebounds (6.4 per game, 15th) and blocks (0.7 per game, 15th). Her contributions down low were supported by swing player Alex Montgomery (5.7 rpg, 21st), forward Dearica Hamby (4.2 rpg, 26th) and center Kayla Alexander (0.5 bpg, 28th).
Laimbeer is also serving as President of Basketball Operations for the Las Vegas Aces, so he will have a lot of input into shaping the 2018 roster, as well as the No. 1 overall pick next spring. Right now, it appears that pick could be South Carolina center A'ja Wilson, a unanimous preseason choice for the All-America team. Last year in leading the Gamecocks to the NCAA championship, Wilson averaged 17.9 ppg and 7.8 rpg while shooting 58.8 percent from the floor.
The sky will be the limit for this team next season, especially if the roster adds a player like Wilson to its lineup. Laimbeer will bring out the best in his players, as he has done previously with the Shock and the New York Liberty. Soon, Las Vegas could find itself hoisting the WNBA Championship Trophy, and that would be very exciting for Sin City and its professional sports legacy, which is growing year by year.
Keep it here on AXS.com for plenty more on the WNBA and Las Vegas to come.