It’s ridiculous to think that A’ja Wilson isn’t the highest scorer on the Las Vegas Aces. She averages 19 points, which trails Kelsey Plum’s 20.3-point average. Wilson has taken a step back this season, allowing Plum, Jackie Young, and Dearica Hamby to shine brighter. That’s led to the Aces being one of the top teams in the league.
While Wilson is not the team’s leading scorer, it doesn't diminish just how important she is to the Aces. When the team needs a bucket, they still lean on the 2020 MVP to get it. That’s because Wilson has an offensive arsenal full of patented moves and counters, enabling her to score at will over helpless defenders. Make no mistake, when Wilson wants to take over a game, she can and she most likely will.
Let’s dig a little bit into Wilson’s scoring bag.
Brand new 3-point shot
The best way to start talking about Wilson’s scoring skills is by highlighting the one weapon she added to her repertoire this season – the 3-point shot. She’s not a volume shooter by any means, hitting only 0.8 shots from beyond the arc this season. But that number represents a sharp increase in attempts and makes for Wilson.
Before this season, she’s only attempted two 3s, making one last season. In just 25 games this year, Wilson has already thrown up 54 shots from beyond the arc, making 19 of them. Wilson’s percentage from the outside (35.2%) is also above the league average (34.5%).
This wasn’t a shot that she gradually worked on over time. This is a totally new weapon that she can pull out when needed. Wilson’s stroke from the midrange has always been smooth. Now that she’s stronger, she can extend her range to beyond the arc.
That means defenders can’t sag off her anymore, taking away one move they can utilize against her. For the Aces, they can call 3-point plays for Wilson now, also adding another trick up the team’s sleeve.
Watch these two pick-and-pop plays that the Aces run for Wilson. Also watch how effortless her stroke is from the outside.
Stronger, more polished drives
Wilson is so good because she has a unique skill set for a player her size. Her footwork is impeccable, her handle is tight, and her touch is buttery. She can pull off moves other bigs in the league can’t even dream of doing.
When Wilson drives to the hoop, she can do it in one motion with no wasted movements. It’s hard to defend the way she attacks the basket when the defender can’t telegraph what her next move will be.
Just watch this spinning drive by Wilson during her rookie year.
The move was effective, but raw and rough around the edges.
Now watch the same move this year.
Wilson wasn’t going one speed. She slowed down her dribble before going on the attack. The spin was done in one easy motion, and as a result, the finish was easier for her.
Similar to her 3-point shot, because she’s now stronger, Wilson can bulldoze the defense when needed. She can now finish through the contact, not after it (Shout out Stanley Sugarman!).
Here’s Wilson in her rookie year matched up against a smaller defender. She bumps the defender and settles for the fadeaway jumper.
The situation is different since the smaller defender in this play is a help defender, but watch how she just powers through the defense on this drive.
Wilson’s drives to the hoop have always been in her bag. She just upgraded all her moves this season, thanks to her improved strength and knowledge of the game.
Post move counters
One of Wilson’s patented moves in the post is her turnaround jumper. She can hit it spinning left or right. Because she’s so long, it’s a tough move to defend. That’s one of the reasons why it’s one of her favorite moves to pull out of her bag.
This year, she’s expanded on her moves in the post. With the turnaround jumper as the foundation, she’s added counters and fakes to keep the defense guessing. Here’s Wilson faking the turnaround jumper and shifting into an up-and-under move to score.
This is once again a testament to her footwork. Wilson’s ease in moving around the court extends from her drives to the hoop all the way to her play in the post.
Watch how she operates in this play. She uses her strength, footwork, and length all on one step-through. She strung together a series of moves and made it all look too easy.
Oh. Wilson’s turn around jumper still looks good, by the way.
The numbers back up the eye test. Wilson is averaging close to 50 percent shooting from the field. She’s now the most effective she’s been in her entire career. Wilson got stronger, improved her footwork, and extended her range. She’s kept the list of go-to moves she’s had all her career and enhanced or expanded a few others.
Wilson may only be fifth in the top scorers list this season. But the bag that she brings to every game trumps all the players on that list, even the ones above her.