Las Vegas Aces Still WNBA Title Favorite Despite Candace Parker Injury
Posted on: July 26, 2023, 10:10h.
Last updated on: July 26, 2023, 12:21h.
Starting forward Candace Parker is out indefinitely with a left foot injury, but the defending champion Las Vegas Aces remain the betting favorite to win the 2023 WNBA championship at -300 odds.
Parker won two NCAA women’s championships at Tennessee before she joined the Los Angeles Sparks as the #1 pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft.
During 13 seasons in Los Angeles, Parker won the WNBA MVP twice and led the Sparks to a WNBA championship in 2016.
Parker played for the Chicago Sky for the past two seasons and won another WNBA championship in 2021.
Parker, 37, signed a one-year deal with the Aces in the offseason to assist in their title defense. There was speculation that should retire at the end of last season, but she believed she could still perform at a high level. This season with the Aces marks Parker’s 16th year in the WNBA.
Parker Undergoes Surgery
Parker had been nursing a foot injury all season. She attempted to play through a painful fractured left foot. After sitting out five games, Parker consulted team doctors and finally opted for surgery.
I’ll work my way towards being healthy as soon as possible,” said Parker via social media. “For my teammates, for my circle, for my family, for myself.”
In 18 games this season, Parker averaged 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. She’s the fifth-highest scorer on the Aces. She averaged 13.3 ppg during her two seasons in Chicago as a role player, and played a pivotal part in their championship season of 2021.
“It’s unfortunate and so it’s a little bit more pressure on everybody else to step up and fill those shoes,” said head coach Becky Hammon. “There’s no doubt we miss her voice, her presence, because she’s certainly got an energy to her, too.”
The Aces hope Parker can return in time for the WNBA playoffs, which begin on September 13.
Center Kian Stokes started six games for the Aces this season in place of Parker. Stokes has been a member of the Aces for the past three seasons and started four games last year. In 24 games this season, Stokes averages 2.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Veteran forward Alysha Clark joined the Aces this season to shore up their bench. She’s been the sixth woman this season, averaging 6.8 points, 3.0 assists, and 2.4 rebounds off the bench.
Clark and Stokes will both see an uptick in minutes by replacing Parker in the lineup. If Hammon wants to play with a small ball lineup, leading scorer A’ja Wilson could log minutes at center.
Aces Undefeated in Sin City
The Aces are the best team in the WNBA this season with a 22-2 record, and are undefeated at home in Las Vegas with a perfect 11-0 record.
The Aces hold a four-game lead over the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun in the overall standings.
The Aces began the season with a 7-0 record before dropping their first game, a road affair against the Sun, in early June. They responded to the loss with nine straight victories, beginning the season with an impressive 16-1 stretch.
After losing to the Dallas Wings in early July, the Aces went on another winning streak. They won six in a row after they knocked off the Sky Tuesday night in Chicago.
The WNBA season now consists of 40 games. The Aces have 16 games remaining, including three more against the Liberty.
The Aces completed a tough four-game road trip, where they kept their latest winning streak intact. They return home to Las Vegas for a two-game homestand, which begins on Sunday against the Wings and concludes with the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday.
WNBA Futures Market: Aces or Liberty?
Mark Davis, the owner of the Las Vegas Raiders, purchased the Aces in 2021. Davis sold Tom Brady a piece of the Aces in March before the star quarterback acquired a minority share of the Raiders after his retirement from the NFL.
The Aces won last year’s WNBA championship and Las Vegas celebrated its first major sports championship with a memorable parade. In the offseason, reports of bullying in the locker room surfaced. The WNBA suspended head coach Becky Hammon for two games for bullying a pregnant player. Despite their offseason headlines, the Aces have been on a mission to successfully defend their title.
The Aces are the consensus favorite to win the 2023 WNBA Championship at -300 odds, according to DraftKings. The second-place Liberty (17-5) are the closest competition at +300 odds.
The Connecticut Sun (+200), Dallas Wings (+3500), and Washington Mystics (+4500) round out the top-five betting favorites.
The Sun, who play their home games at Mohegan Sun Casino, are 18-6 and currently occupy third place. The Aces hold a four-game lead over the Sun.
The Wings occupy fourth place with a 13-10 record and are one of just two teams to defeat the mighty Aces this season.
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