NEW YORK — The Las Vegas Aces fell just short of the WNBA championship last season while missing three key players.
Now with Liz Cambage, Kelsey Plum and Dearica Hamby back as well as free agent addition Chelsea Gray to help league MVP A’ja Wilson, the Aces sit atop the preseason Associated Press WNBA poll Wednesday.
“We grew up last year, we added other pieces,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “There will be bumps in the road. We’re going to have some problems early on. My goal is, we hit the break, we’re there. After the break, get out of our way. There will be a little bumpy road at the start. This is about winning the playoffs, not how you play in the first two or three games.”
Las Vegas received 11 first-place votes from the 15-member national media panel Wednesday. Seattle, the defending WNBA champions, garnered the other four first-place ballots and was picked second. Seattle star Breanna Stewart was picked as the AP preseason player of the year for the second straight season.
The Aces did suffer a setback last week with the loss of Angel McCoughtry to an ACL injury in her right knee.
Chicago, which had the biggest offseason acquisition by signing former MVP Candace Parker, sat in third in the voting. The Sky were followed by Washington, Minnesota, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
The Mystics made a big move themselves in the offseason in signing Alysha Clark from the Storm. Unfortunately the stout defender injured her foot while playing for France and is out for the season. Star Elena Delle Donne, who opted out of last season because of the coronavirus, is still recovering from a second back surgery in the offseason and is taking it slowly.
“We have some incredible pieces to this puzzle and if all goes well and people can stay healthy and get healthy, it can be a scary team,” she said.
Connecticut was eighth in the power poll. The Sun welcome back Jonquel Jones, who also sat out last season, but will be missing star Alyssa Thomas. She tore her Achilles tendon playing overseas this offseason.
Dallas was picked ninth. The Wings hope to keep building after another productive draft that saw them have the No. 1, 2 and 5 picks. The team chose Charli Collier, Awak Kuier and Chelsea Dungee with those picks. Collier edged out Atlanta’s Aari McDonald as the preseason rookie of the year choice.
Atlanta, New York and Indiana round out the poll.