In the second annual WNBA Commissioner’s Cup final, the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Chicago Sky 93-83. The stars on Vegas came ready to play. Kelsey Plum led the way with 24 points, while Chelsea Gray (19 points), Jackie Young (18 points), and A’ja Wilson (17 points), certainly did their part to give the Aces the win. All four of these players were worthy of taking home the MVP, but the award ultimately went to Gray.
So, the Aces just won a midseason tournament. Does it matter?
On one hand, the win matters. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter at all. Let’s start with why it matters.
Money and bragging rights
Winning a tournament that involved every team in the league is certainly a confidence booster. If they didn’t know already, Las Vegas understands that they’re capable of raising a trophy in the Fall. They just got a preview of that.
The Aces now get to go into the final stretch of the regular season with nothing short of momentum and team chemistry. On top of their Commissioner’s Cup champion high, they drop almost five points more a game (90.4) than any other team in the league. No one wants to face the Aces come playoff time.
We can’t forget about the prize money that comes with winning the Cup. Each Las Vegas player earned $30,000 for the win, and Gray got an additional $5,000 for her MVP efforts. With WNBA salaries being disappointingly low (the average salary is around $130,000), a $30,000 prize is almost one-fourth of the average salary. This would be equivalent to NBA players getting a $2.1 million prize.
Let’s just say the extra dough can go a long way for the Commissioner’s Cup champs. As a consolation prize, Sky players got to take home $10,000 themselves. Not too bad for the runner-ups.
No on paper advantage
While the Aces do get added momentum and some extra cash, the Cup win doesn’t give them any other advantage heading into the postseason. They don’t get extra home-court advantage or any byes for the midseason title. They’ll have to conquer the playoffs the same way that every other playoff team will have to — by winning a best-of-three series and two best-of-five series.
Close your eyes, Vegas fans
Last year’s Commissioner’s Cup champions, the Seattle Storm, didn’t translate their midseason title into playoff success. They were on the losing side of their only 2021 postseason action.
As the second ever Cup winners, the Las Vegas Aces will be trying to dispel the Cup-curse. Kelsey Plum, A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, and the rest of the squad are more than capable of making significant noise come August and September.