Plum has been major reason for Aces success this season

Jun 27, 2022, 11:59 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2022, 12:02 pm
Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum (10) shoots against Chicago Sky forward Emma Meesseman (33) during...

Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum (10) shoots against Chicago Sky forward Emma Meesseman (33) during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

(AP Photo/John Locher)

Kelsey Plum views her improved play this season to just having more time on the court.

The Las Vegas guard is averaging a career-high 20.7 points and 5.7 assists this year to help the Aces to the best record in the league. She’s playing a career-best 34.7 minutes a game — nine more than last year when she won the league’s Sixth Woman of the Year award.

“I think if you look at the numbers, points per minute and assists per minute they are pretty close” to last season, Plum said. “Really it’s about opportunity. Coach has me in a little bit of a different role.”

Aces coach Becky Hammon has worked hard to have Plum understand she can be a really good facilitator as well as scorer.

“Her most growth has come with just her willingness to pass and play with her teammates,” Hammon said. “That makes her unguardable since she does so many other things. She understands the pass can be a valuable tool to her offensive game.”

Coaches, players and fans around the league are taking notice as Plum earned her first All-Star nod, being chosen as a starter.

Despite Plum’s solid play, the Aces dropped two of three games and fell behind Chicago in the AP WNBA power poll Tuesday.

POWER POLL

This week’s WNBA poll:

1. Chicago (13-5): A record rally over Las Vegas moved the Sky up the power poll. Chicago came back from a 28-point deficit — the most in league history. The Sky followed it up with a last-second win over Minnesota after nearly blowing a double-digit lead. “This was a huge week for us,” Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot said. “It really showed what we’re capable of, that we’re always in a game and that we can finish tight ones.”

2. Las Vegas (14-4): The Aces dropped two games in a row for the first time this season before rebounding with a win over Los Angeles on Monday night. Las Vegas welcomed the return of guard Riquna Williams for the first time in a month after dealing with a foot injury in the win over Los Angeles.

3. Connecticut (13-6): The Sun’s offense has sputtered the last three games as they’ve averaged just 70.7 points — 20 less than their previous seven games this month.

4. Washington (12-9): in a good sign for the Mystics, Elena Delle Donne played in consecutive road games for the first time this season. She was dominant in both of them.

5. Seattle (11-7): The Storm bolstered their roster by signing Tina Charles, who left Phoenix in a “contract-divorce” last week. The veteran center provides more offensive scoring punch in the post for the Storm.

6. New York (8-10): A pair of road wins helped the Liberty continue to rebound from a 1-7 start; New York is 7-3 since stumbling out out of the gate. Sabrina Ionescu continues to play well, averaging nearly a triple-double each night.

7. Dallas (9-10): Teaira McCowan has provided a strong inside presence for the Wings over the last few games with the absence of Satou Sabally, who has a bone bruise on her right knee.

8. Phoenix (8-12): The Mercury seemed to have been galvanized by Tina Charles’ leaving. They’ve won both games since her departure.

9. Los Angeles (7-11): The Sparks haven’t gotten much out of their two major offseason acquisitions. Liz Cambage reached double-figures scoring for the first time this month in Monday’s loss to Las Vegas. Chennedy Carter lately hasn’t gotten much playing time.

10. Atlanta (8-10): The Dream are 3-7 in the month and have missed guard Erica Wheeler (foot injury). She hasn’t played since June 7.

11. Minnesota (5-14): Sylvia Fowles returned from a knee injury and the Lynx are playing better. They enter a pivotal stretch with eight of 10 at home.

12. Indiana (5-15): It’s a busy week for the struggling Fever with games in Phoenix before traveling to Seattle on Friday night. Indiana has gone 2-7 on the road this year.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Courtney Vandersloot of Chicago was voted the AP Player of the Week. She averaged 18.3 points, 5 assists and 3.7 rebounds to help the Sky win all three of their games. She hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Sky to a win over Minnesota. Breanna Stewart of Seattle and Nneka Ogwumike of Los Angeles also received votes.

GAME OF THE WEEK:

Mercury at Sky, Saturday. Phoenix has been on a roll the last few games and will be tested when they visit Chicago.

___

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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner (12) throws while playing Toledo in the first half of a...
Associated Press

Buchner leads way in Freeman’s first season with No. 5 Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — It’s been nearly six decades since a first-year head coach and a new starting quarterback faced similar stakes at Notre Dame. Fighting Irish fans are hoping for similar results. Back then, in 1964, 41-year-old Ara Parseghian and eventual Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte teamed up to nearly lead Notre Dame […]
1 day ago
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to throw during NFL football practice in Berea, O...
Associated Press

AP sources: Talks on possible Watson settlement progress

Talks between the NFL and NFL Players Association on a discipline settlement for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson have progressed. However, it’s uncertain whether the two sides will reach a deal, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The people spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because of the […]
1 day ago
Venus Williams returns a ball from Jil Teichmann, of Switzerland, during women's tennis action at t...
Associated Press

Venus Williams back in US Open after being given wild card

NEW YORK (AP) — Venus Williams will be back in the U.S. Open this year after being given a wild card on Wednesday into what could be younger sister Serena’s final tournament. Venus Williams won back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2000 and 2001, and this year marks 25 years since she reached the 1997 final in […]
1 day ago
FILE - Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels speaks to reporters during baseball spring trainin...
Associated Press

Daniels out as Rangers president after 17 years leading club

Jon Daniels is out as president of baseball operations for the Texas Rangers after two World Series appearances during 17 years leading the club, likely finishing his tenure with a string of six consecutive losing seasons. Team owner Ray Davis said Wednesday that Daniels was being relieved of his duties immediately after the decision was […]
1 day ago
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts to his teammates during the English Premier League soc...
Associated Press

Ronaldo gets police caution for incident at Everton match

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo has received a police caution after footage was posted online of the Manchester United forward appearing to knock a phone out of an Everton fan’s hand at a Premier League match in April. Merseyside Police said Wednesday that “the matter has now concluded.” The 37-year-old soccer great was interviewed […]
1 day ago
Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi speaks at an introductory press conference for new Philli...
Associated Press

Former Phillies manager Joe Girardi to join Cubs TV booth

CHICAGO (AP) — Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi has joined Marquee Sports Network as a game analyst for the Chicago Cubs, one of his former teams. Marquee said Wednesday that Girardi will be in the booth with Jon Sciambi and former big league pitcher Jim Deshaies for this weekend’s series against Milwaukee. He also […]
1 day ago
Plum has been major reason for Aces success this season