Hammon has Aces off to sizzling start on offense

(AP Photo/Ellen Schmidt)

By DOUG FEINBERG

AP Basketball Writer

Becky Hammon vowed before the season tipped off that the Las Vegas Aces would be shooting more 3-poitners this year.

It was a safe declaration to make when she was hired considering the team has been last in the league in attempts since moving to Las Vegas from San Antonio in 2018. The Aces averaged just 13.5 attempts last season.

But Hammon's squad hasn't just surpassed low expectations, they're second in the league averaging nearly 26 3-pointers a game. They tied the WNBA record with 18 made 3s in Monday night's rout of Los Angeles.

"Basketball is a game of confidence," Hammon said after the win. "You see one or two go in the basket, people get rolling ... it becomes real fun as an offensive player, especially when you know your teammates are going to find you when you're open."

The Aces made 162 3s all of last season. This year they've already made 85.

Las Vegas is leading the league in scoring at 93.3 points a game and has topped 100 points in three of the team's first eight games.

"It just seems like it's a breath of fresh air for all of us," said Las Vegas star A'ja Wilson, who hit two 3-pointers in Monday's win. "I would definitely say we're having fun."

The Aces sit atop the league standings and The Associated Press WNBA power poll with a 7-1 record.

POWER POLL

This week's WNBA poll:

1. Las Vegas (7-1): All five starters are averaging in double figures in scoring which makes the Aces even more difficult to guard.

2. Connecticut (4-1): After a season-opening loss the Sun have won four straight games. Connecticut did lose guard Jasmine Thomas to a knee injury in the team's victory over Indiana. The team announced she's out for the season with a torn ACL. Connecticut has a busy week ahead with two games against Dallas and one against Washington.

3. Washington (5-2): No. 3 overall draft pick Shakira Austin has been a strong addition to the Mystics. She's averaging 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting nearly 64% from the field this season.

4. Chicago (3-2): The Sky welcomed back WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper after she completed a stellar overseas season. Now that the team is "whole" again according to coach James Wade, the Sky will look to string some wins together.

5. Dallas (4-2): The Wings have gotten a solid start to the season from guard Marina Mabrey. She's averaging 15.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists and is been a nice compliment to Arike Ogunbowale.

6.. Seattle (3-3): Former league MVP Breanna Stewart returned from a positive COVID-19 test and the Storm won both their games. Seattle will look to keep it rolling with two games against New York this week.

7. Atlanta (4-2): The Dream have gotten off to a strong start behind No. 1 pick Rhyne Howard. The schedule gets a little more challenging with a road game in Washington before the team hosts Phoenix. Atlanta could get a boost from Tiffany Hayes, who has been resting since returning from her overseas commitment.

8. Phoenix (2-4): The schedule hasn't been kind to the Mercury with three of their first six games against the Las Vegas Aces. Phoenix has missed guard Skylar Diggins-Smith the last two games with a non-COVID-19 illness. In the last game she played, the veteran guard had words on the bench with Diana Taurasi and the two had to be separated.

9. Los Angeles (2-5): The Sparks have a busy stretch with three games in the next six days. After losing at Las Vegas Monday night, Los Angeles travels to Indiana and Minnesota after a home game against Phoenix on Wednesday.

10. Minnesota (1-6): The Lynx will get forward Natalie Achonwa back after she was cleared to return from a right hamstring injury she suffered on May 8. Minnesota has two home games this week and will honor former Lynx great Seimone Augustus on Sunday when L.A. comes to town. Augustus is an assistant coach for the Sparks.

11. Indiana (2-6): The Fever have dropped four straight games and have missed No. 2 pick NaLyssa Smith, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the past three contests. She's averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds a game.

12. New York (1-4): A week of practice could help the Liberty as they begin a three-game road trip in Minnesota on Tuesday. New York has been plagued by injuries and signed 2020 Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield to a hardship deal. Her first game is against her former team the Lynx. New York will be without Betnijay Laney (right knee), Jocelyn Willoughby (left quadricep tendon), DiDi Richards (right hamstring), Lorela Cubaj (concussion).

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Jackie Young of Las Vegas was voted the AP Player of the Week after averaging 20.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4 assists to help the Aces go 4-0. Alyssa Thomas of Connecticut and Arike Ogunbowale of Dallas also received votes.

ELITE COMPANY

Candace Parker of Chicago became the third player in WNBA history with twi triple-doubles in her career. Parker had 16 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists - the last to Courtney Vandersloot who also has accomplished the feat - in a win over Washington on Sunday. The triple-double by Parker was the 12th in league history and at 36 years of age she is the oldest player to do it. Sheryl Swoopes, who also has two triple-doubles, got her second at 34.

"To be in the company with Sloot, who does it on a regular basis and will probably end her career leading the league in assists, and Sheryl Swoopes, who I grew up watching and idolizing, I'm humbled by it," Parker said. "I realize that there are more that are coming behind me. I hope that coaches are watching, that the point forward is where it's at."

GAME OF THE WEEK:

Aces at Sky, Saturday. Two of the top teams in the league will meet on national television in Chicago. The Sky will look to slow down the league's top offense.

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More AP women's basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Updated May 24, 2022

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