Basketball-MVP candidate Wilson gunning to become WNBA’s ‘unguardable’ threat

By Thomson Reuters Aug 18, 2022 | 4:41 PM

By Amy Tennery

(Reuters) – The Las Vegas Aces’ defensive force of nature A’ja Wilson said on Thursday that a brand-new mindset helped her to the best season of her career, as she rolls through the WNBA playoffs a leading candidate in the MVP race.

Averaging 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in the regular season, the 2020 MVP is gunning to bring home a maiden WNBA title for the Ace, after focusing on a singular personal goal – becoming “unguardable”.

“I just shifted my mindset. I just really focused and dialed in on how I could be a better player all around,” she told Reuters. “I want to be seen as just someone who is so hard to guard. And that’s all in the mindset.”

Shooting 37.3% from three-point territory and 50.1% from the field, it’s a mindset that clearly paid off.

Wilson would become only the seventh WNBA player to pick up the honor multiple times if she can beat out Seattle Storm powerhouse Breanna Stewart, who is widely seen as her only genuine challenger.

“I would love for my name to be added to that list of just Hall of Famers that have been in this situation,” said Wilson.

“My biggest thing is just trying to stay in the moment at the end of the day and just control what I can control and have fun.”

The Aces haven’t missed a beat since the blockbuster hiring of coach Becky Hammon this year, a longtime assistant coach in the NBA who led Las Vegas to a franchise-best 26-10 regular-season record.

Although her mind is firmly focused on the postseason, after a 79-63 win over the Phoenix Mercury to open their playoff run on Wednesday, she is also celebrating an off-court win.

Wilson joined a growing group of players to ink major sponsorship deals this week, signing on as Ruffles’ first female athlete as last year’s WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper penned a deal with Gatorade.

Wilson, who will have her own signature flavor with the potato chip brand, sees it as significant for the league, as sponsors have traditionally flocked to the men’s game.

“I don’t even want to say companies are ‘taking a chance’,” said Wilson. “It’s just they’re starting to see potential in the players at the W and what we bring.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)