Las Vegas Aces’ Becky Hammon named 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year

Las Vegas Aces’ Becky Hammon has been named the 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year, the league announced Friday. She becomes the first former WNBA player to win the award in her first season as a head coach.

Hammon received 27 out of 56 votes from a panel of sports media members, while Atlanta Dream’s Tanisha Wright — another former WNBA player-turned-coach — took second place at 18. Chicago Sky’s James Wade received eight, while Dallas Johnson’s Vickie, Phoenix’s Vanessa Nygaard and Washington’s Mike Thibault collected one each.

Hammon is the seventh coach in WNBA history to take home Coach of the Year honors in his freshman season.

The No. 1-seeded Aces, who led Hammon to a 26-10 regular season result, will take on the fourth-seeded Seattle Storm in a best-of-five semifinal series starting Sunday. The regular-season Aces win percentage (.722) is the second-highest win percentage of all time for a rookie head coach.

Las Vegas is hoping to win a franchise-first WNBA title, having reached at least the semifinals in each of the past three years under Bill Laimbeer. If the Aces win the title, Hammon would become the first freshman head coach to win a WNBA championship since Van Chancellor did it with the Houston Comets in the league’s inaugural season in 1997.

Following Laimbeer’s departure last offseason, Hammon was keen to implement a fast, space-stripping and reading-heavy offense with a barrage of 3-pointers, a far cry from Laimbeer’s more old-fashioned approach of getting the ball in the post. The Aces thrived under the new style: Hammon’s 9-1 start to the regular season marked the best 10-game start by a head coaching career in league history, and the team’s .722 regular-season win ratio is the third-best in of franchise history. Hammon also led the Aces to win the second annual Commissioner’s Cup championship game last month, 93-83 against Chicago, and led Team Wilson to victory in the 2022 All-Star Game.

Along the way, Vegas’ new offense has broken a number of WNBA records: Last week in the first round playoff match against Phoenix Mercury, she had 23 most 3-pointers in any game, and her 90.4 points per game marked third- highest point average in league history and highest since 2010.

Hammon’s starting five — A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray and former reserves Kelsey Plum and Dearica Hamby — turned out to be one of the deadliest lineups in the league. Four of the five were named All-Stars earlier this season, including MVP nominee Wilson, Most Improved Prospect Young and expected All-WNBA pick Plum, while Gray recognized them as Commissioner’s Cup championship game MVP.

Hammon’s legendary WNBA career spanned 16 seasons, including eight with the San Antonio Silver Stars, the precursor to the Aces before the franchise transition. She was recently named one of the 25 greatest players in league history. After retiring, Hammon served as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs for eight seasons, becoming the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history. Las Vegas Aces’ Becky Hammon named 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year

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