12: 01 PM ET
- Covers women’s college basketball and the WNBA
- Previously covered UConn and the WNBA Connecticut Sun for the Hartford Courant
- Stanford graduate and Baltimore native with further experience at the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times and Cincinnati Enquirer
The NEVADA Aces‘ Becky Hammon was named 2022 WNBA Coach of the entire year, the league announced Friday, making her the initial former WNBA player to win the award in her debut season as head coach.
Hammon earned 27 of 56 votes from the panel of sports media members, as the Atlanta Dream’s Tanisha Wright — another former WNBA player-turned-coach — came in second with 18. The Chicago Sky’s James Wade received eight, while Dallas’ Vickie Johnson, Phoenix’s Vanessa Nygaard and Washington’s Mike Thibault each collected one.
Hammon becomes the seventh coach in WNBA history to collect Coach of the entire year honors within their first season.
The No. 1-seeded Aces, whom Hammon guided to a 26-10 regular-season finish, will need on the fourth-seeded Seattle Storm in a best-of-five semifinal series beginning Sunday. The Aces’ regular-season winning percentage (.722) may be the second-highest winning percentage ever for a rookie head coach.
NEVADA is hoping to earn a franchise-first WNBA title after advancing to at the very least the semifinals each one of the previous 3 years under Bill Laimbeer. If the Aces win the title, Hammon would end up being the first first-year head coach to obtain a WNBA championship since Van Chancellor achieved it with the Houston Comets in the league’s inaugural season in 1997.
Following a departure of Laimbeer earlier this offseason, Hammon came in wanting to implement a pace-and-space, read-heavy offense having a barrage of 3-pointers, a long way off from Laimbeer’s more old-school approach based on obtaining the ball in to the post. The Aces thrived beneath the new style: Hammon’s 9-1 begin to the standard season signified the very best 10-game starting to a head-coaching career in league history, and the team’s .722 regular-season winning percentage may be the third best in franchise history. Hammon also guided the Aces to winning the next annual Commissioner’s Cup championship game last month, 93-83 over Chicago, while also leading Team Wilson to victory in the 2022 All-Star Game.
On the way, Vegas’ new offense has broken a slew of WNBA records: It hit probably the most 3s in virtually any game the other day with 23 in the first-round playoff matchup contrary to the Phoenix Mercury, and its own 90.4 points per game marked the third-highest scoring average in league history, and the best since 2010.
Hammon’s starting five — A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray and former reserves Kelsey Plum and Dearica Hamby — emerged among the most lethal lineups in the league. Four of the five were named All-Stars earlier this year, including MVP candidate Wilson, Most Improved prospect Young and expected all-WNBA selection Plum, while Gray got her due when named MVP of the Commissioner’s Cup championship game.
Hammon’s storied WNBA playing career spanned 16 seasons, including eight with the San Antonio Silver Stars, the precursor to the Aces before the franchise’s move. She was recently named among the 25 greatest players in league history. After her playing career concluded, Hammon served eight seasons being an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, with whom she became the initial full-time female assistant in NBA history.