It’s rare to draft a rookie who can make an immediate impact. It’s even rarer to find a rookie that can make history.
But when it comes to A’ja Wilson, she is the exception to every rule—within her first year as a professional basketball player, she has already cemented herself as one of the best.
The 22-year-old just finished one of the greatest WNBA rookie seasons and was unanimously selected as the Rookie of the Year.
This season, Wilson averaged 20.7 points, eight rebounds and 1.67 blocks per game—leading all rookies and ranking sixth overall in the league in these statistical categories. She is only one of three players—alongside MVP runner-up Liz Cambage and 2017 MVP Sylvia Fowles—in the WNBA to average at least 20 points, eight boards and 1.5 blocks this season.
The 6-foot-4 power forward is the only first-year player to be named an All-Star in 2018 and her resume stacks up against the greats.
A’ja by the numbers
Her 682 points for the season is the second-highest scoring year for a rookie behind Seimone Augustus, who recorded 744 points in 2006. Wilson’s average of 1.6 blocks per game ranks fourth in blocks by a rookie in a single season while her 264 boards place her in fifth place in total blocks among all rookies in league history. She notched the fourth-best PER of 24.6 for a rookie (Player Efficiency Rating – a number that represents a player’s overall contribution), which trails behind Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne.
Wilson is also the first rookie in league history to notch at least 650 points, grab 250 boards, record 50 blocks and dish out 70 assists. She is only one of five players (current MVP Breanna Stewart, Brittney Griner, Liz Cambage, Lisa Leslie) to accomplish this feat since the inception of the WNBA.
That’s impressive company to be a part of.
The A’ja effect on the Aces
The Las Vegas Aces have reaped the benefits of Wilson’s elite play. Before drafting the South Carolina product, the Aces were a bottom-feeder team with a combined 23 wins in the last three years. In this year’s campaign, they improved to 14 wins and were in playoffs contention until the final week of the season.
And as Wilson continues to grow as a player, so will the Aces’ chances to be competitive in the league. And so long as Wilson is in black and red, this year will be the last year they don’t make the playoffs.
All statistics provided by Basketball-reference.com and WNBA.com unless otherwise stated.
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