The Las Vegas Aces‘ Becky Hammon was named 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year, the league announced Friday, making her the first former WNBA player to win the award in her debut season as a head coach.
Hammon won 27 of 56 votes from a panel of sports media, while the Atlanta Dream’s Tanisha Wright — another former WNBA player turned coach — came in second with 18. The Chicago Sky James Wade got eight, while Vickie Johnson of Dallas, Vanessa Nygaard of Phoenix and Mike Thibault of Washington each collected one.
Hammon becomes the seventh coach in WNBA history to take home coach of the year honors in their first season.
The No. 1 seed Aces, who Hammon led to a 26-10 regular-season finish, host the No. 4 seed. Seattle Storm in a best-of-five semifinal series starting Sunday. The Aces’ regular season winning percentage (.722) is the second-highest winning percentage ever for a rookie head coach.
Las Vegas is hoping to win a franchise-first WNBA title after advancing to at least the semifinals each of the previous three years under Bill Laimbeer. Should the Aces win the title, Hammon would become the first first-year head coach to receive a WNBA championship since Van Chancellor did it with the Houston Comets in the league’s inaugural season.
Following Laimbeer’s departure this past offseason, Hammon came in eager to implement a fast-and-space, read-heavy offense featuring a barrage of 3-pointers, a far cry from Laimbeer’s more old-school approach based on inbounding the ball. the mail The Aces thrived under the new style: Hammon’s 9-1 start to the regular season marked the best 10-game start to a head coaching career in league history, and the team’s .722 regular-season winning percentage is the third-most good in franchise history. Hammon also led the Aces to win the second annual Commissioner’s Cup championship last month, 93-83 over Chicago, while also leading Team Wilson to victory in the 2022 All-Star Game.
Along the way, Vegas’ new offense broke a slew of WNBA records: It hit the most 3s in any game last week with 23 in the first-round playoff contest against the Phoenix Mercuryand its 90.4 points per game marked the third-highest scoring average in league history, and the highest since 2010.
Hammon starts five — Aja Wilson, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray and former reserves Kelsey Plum and Dearica Hamby — emerged as one of the deadliest lineups in the league. Four of the five were named All-Stars earlier this season, 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 championship game .
Hammon’s storied WNBA playing career spanned 16 seasons, including eight with the San Antonio Silver Stars, the predecessor to the Aces before the franchise’s move. She was recently named one of the 25 greatest players in league history. After her playing career ended, Hammon served as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs for eight seasons, where she became the first full-time female assistant in NBA history.