Aces forward A’ja Wilson has scored in double figures in 41 of 42 career games.
The aberration, a five-point outing against the New York Liberty on June 9, is nothing more than a distant memory.
“I had my slumps at times,” she said. “But I’d rather get it out of the way this time of the year (instead of) in the playoffs or later in the year.”
Wilson is finding her groove offensively, and submitted last week her best two individual performances of the season — a 28-point outburst against the Washington Mystics and a 20-point game against the Dallas Wings — to garner Western Conference Player of the Week honors entering Tuesday night’s home game against the Western Conference-leading Seattle Storm.
The 6-foot-5-inch Wilson, now nine games into her sophomore season, is averaging a team-high 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds while displaying the patience and poise coach Bill Laimbeer raved about before the year.
“It’s been tough so far. Of course people are starting to learn who you are, who we are,” she said. “They’re trying to take things away. But my teammates are keeping me in good spirits. We’re just there for each other.”
Wilson last year emerged as one of the premier players in the WNBA, averaging 20.7 points as the team’s focal point to go with 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks en route to unanimous Rookie of the Year honors. She also attempted 16.1 field goals per game, shot 46.2 percent from the field and 77.4 from the free-throw line on a league-high 7.5 attempts.
The addition of All-Star center Liz Cambage has a natural affect on the Aces’ offense, though, and some of Wilson’s shot attempts have been distributed elsewhere as the Aces continue to jell. Her rookie usage rate of 29.2 percent is down to 24, but she hasn’t had an issue deferring to any of her teammates and is embracing their success.
“She realizes that we have a lot of good players and sometimes the ball isn’t going to come your way,” Laimbeer said. “When it does come your way, you’ve got to make the most of it and that’s what she’s doing right now.”
Wilson this year is shooting a team-high 52.9 percent from the field, reflecting improved offensive execution and shot selection in the half-court setting. She still thrives from the mid-range area and attacks the basket with a rare blend of speed, power and grace.
“I’m just taking what the defense is giving me,” she said. “Operating in that way — and making sure however many shots, whenever I get them just executing them and making sure that I’m there performing for my team.”
Who: Aces vs. Seattle Storm
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center
Tickets: Starting at $20 at axs.com
TV: KVCW-12. Streaming: Twitter.
About the Aces (5-4): Dearica Hamby put forth the most productive performance of her career Saturday night, finishing with 27 points in an 86-68 win over the Dallas Wings. She’s averaging 10.6 points and 6.1 rebounds as one of the league’s top reserves. Kayla McBride is averaging 15.6 points per game on 50.5 percent shooting, and Liz Cambage scores 14.4 per game on 48.8 percent shooting.
About the Storm (7-4): No Breanna Stewart, no Sue Bird, no problem for the Storm, who sit atop the Western Conference. Natasha Howard is having a career year, averaging 19.4 points and 8.9 rebounds as the de facto top option. Jewell Lloyd scores 17 points per game for Seattle, which allows 94.1 points per 100 possessions — third fewest in the league.