August 26, 2022
Hammon wins 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year
The six-time WNBA All-Star adds a new form of hardware to her trophy case
There’s an old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That certainly applied to the Las Vegas Aces’ heading into last offseason. They had the best winning percentage in the regular season over the past three seasons and had just appeared in their third straight WNBA semifinals appearance. There was no reason to make any changes. However, when Bill Laimbeer came to the team and said he was burned out coaching, they had to pivot quickly. Aces’ owner Mark Davis decided to make a splash and hired Becky Hammon.
That hire has officially become a home run hire as Becky Hammon was announced today as the 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year.
“This was not really about the NBA or the WNBA. This was about me personally, being ready to have a team and wanting to have a team and wanting to sit in that chair and then being presented with an opportunity to do so.” Hammon said after being hired by the Aces. “This is the organization that made it very, very obvious. They wanted me really, really bad. And so it’s always good to feel wanted. It quickly became evident to me that Las Vegas was the place to be.”
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Hammon has led the Aces to the best record in the WNBA this season along with winning the second ever Commissioner’s Cup. Under Hammon, they had the number one offense in the WNBA and saw a multitude of players have career seasons under her tutelage. The Aces also had four players named to the WNBA All-Star game where Hammon was coach of Team Wilson.
“Becky’s been tremendous for me. I just feel like she’s given me the ultimate green light and she’s super positive with me and believes that, you know, I can do anything on the court,” Kelsey Plum told the Next. “So as a player when your head coach is really consistently reaffirming those things. It just makes you want to, you know, go out there and reach your full potential.”
Hammon has brought a different look to this Aces’ team, especially offensively. Out were the ways of Laimbeer and the triangle offense and in came the high-flying Aces shooting threes left and right. They went from dead last in the league in three pointers attempted to top three. They also were top of the league in fewest turnovers and offensive rating this season.
Becky Hammon was also able to get the most out of her players through instilling them with a lot of confidence. A’ja Wilson has won an MVP before but in Hammon’s system, she became a frontrunner for defensive player of the year not to mention her development as a three point shooter. Speaking of improvement from beyond the arc, Hammon helped turn Jackie Young from a 25 percent three-point shooter last year into a 43 percent three-point shooter this season. Lastly, she unlocked Plum, allowing her to play with freedom; it has paid off, with Plum leading the league in three-point shooting and being named WNBA all-star game MVP.
“The biggest thing I’ve enjoyed is my team, getting to know them as people competing with them, being in the foxhole with them and just being able to teach and put in my own system,” Hammon said. “That’s been a lot of fun for me. But the best part about this job is the people that I get to see, the women I get to see every day. They’re really phenomenal human beings and I’ve enjoyed being their coach.”
Even though Hammon is a first-year coach, she has acted like a veteran on the sideline all season long. It does help when you sit on the bench with one of the greatest coaches of all time, the NBA’s Gregg Popovich, for eight seasons. She has seemed to push the right buttons many times throughout the season. When the Aces went through a slide right before the All-Star break, she called a team meeting before their first game back in New York and reminded them what was going to get them to the promised land: defense. After the break, the Aces were 11-3 and were top five in the WNBA in opponents’ scoring.
Hammon had an amazing career playing in the WNBA including many great years with this Las Vegas Aces franchise (at the time the San Antonio Stars). In her first ever stint as a head coach, she has led the Aces to a Commissioner’s Cup championship, the number one seed in the playoffs and another appearance in the WNBA semifinals. However, for Hammon, she only cares about winning that first illustrious championship for the franchise and making Las Vegas one of the stalwarts of the WNBA.
Written by Matthew Walter
Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.