The WNBA announced on Friday that Becky Hammon of the Las Vegas Aces has been named Coach of the Year.
Hammon played for the New York Liberty and San Antonio Silver Stars (one year as just the Stars) and was ranked as the 23rd-best WNBA player of all-time by ESPN in 2021. She then became well-known as a coach as well, serving as an assistant to Gregg Popovich on the San Antonio Spurs’ staff from 2014 to 2022. She was a splash hire by the Aces this past offseason and did not disappoint in her first season as a head coach at any level.
The Aces went 26-10 and won the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chicago Sky for the No. 1 seed entering the playoffs. They turned heads when they started the season 9-1 and finished on a four-game winning streak that included a win over the Sky and two wins over the No. 4 Seattle Storm. They also won the Commissioner’s Cup championship this year.
The Aces’ superstar center from 2019 and 2021, Liz Cambage, signed with the Los Angeles Sparks prior to this season and Vegas was then ranked 4th in Swish Appeal’s preseason power rankings after being the clear-cut league favorite entering 2021. But Hammon brought the Aces together and had them playing even better basketball than when Cambage was on the team. She got Most Improved-caliber seasons out of Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young. Plum finished second in the league in scoring with 20.2 points per game and is in the running for All-WNBA First Team honors. Young is in the running for the Second Team and both players debuted as All-Stars — as starters no less. Hammon also moved A’ja Wilson to center and helped guide her to her MVP-caliber season.
The Aces led the league with 90.4 points per game and an offensive rating of 111.9. Hammon’s offense was head and shoulders above the rest of the league for much of the season. The Sky finished second in points per game at 86.3; the Connecticut Sun finished second in offensive rating at 108.5.
Hammon received 27 of 56 votes, with Tanisha Wright of the Atlanta Dream receiving 18 and James Wade of the Sky receiving eight. Vickie Johnson (Dallas Wings), Vanessa Nygaard (Phoenix Mercury) and Mike Thibault (Washington Mystics) each received a single vote.
The only other former WNBA players to win the award are Sandy Brondello (2014) and Suzie McConnell-Serio (2004). Neither of them won it while with a franchise they played for; Hammon has (the Stars became the Aces in 2018).