There’s no denying that 2022 was a historic year for the Las Vegas Aces’ #22, A’ja Wilson.
After a devastating loss in the 2021 semi-finals that hit hard for the star, Wilson came into the 2022 season with an even higher level of focus and motivation. “It developed a chip on my shoulder through and through and I will never forget that moment, but at the same time I don’t dwell on it. It's one of those things where it happens but at the same time that feeling now just fuels me,” she said on media day prior to the start of the season.
By the end of the season she became just the fifth player to win WNBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, and the first since Lauren Jackson in 2007. After having also received the MVP award in 2020, she has joined an elite group of just seven players to have won the award multiple times.
Wilson consistently showed up on both ends and put up impressive stats, leading the league with 17 double-doubles, placing fifth in scoring with 19.5 points per game, second in rebounding with 9.4 rebounds per game, and first in blocks with 1.9 blocks per game. However, her impact was felt far beyond the stat sheet. This was the year of Wilson truly coming into her own as the leader and anchor of the team. After struggling with her shot through the playoffs and scoring a season-low six points on 11.1% shooting in game one of the finals, Kelsey Plum was told by Wilson that “she needed to get her shit together.”
“I know it sounds harsh, but KP is a pro…I have ways that I talk to my teammates to get them to understand where I need to be and where we need to be,” said Wilson during post-game media. The honesty was welcomed by Plum and sparked a 20 point, seven assist performance in game two to help secure the win. It is undeniable that Wilson’s leadership played a huge role in making this year's Aces team so dominant and winning them their very first championship. In addition to winning the league championship, the Aces also won the Commissioner's Cup Championship in which Wilson put up a 17-point, 17-rebound double-double. She was also the winning team captain of the 2022 All-Star game.
Wilson’s success this year extended past just the WNBA. She led Team USA to a FIBA World Cup championship and was named the tournament’s MVP after leading the tournament in efficiency per game, field goal percentage (66.1%), and averaging a team-high 17.2 points.
"Being named the MVP of a tournament that features the best athletes in the world is an impressive feat that we're proud to honor. Even more impressive for A'ja Wilson is that she joined the team two games into the tournament, after a long and grueling WNBA season. She was a leader among a team of leaders who made history in Sydney," said USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley.
At just twenty-six years old, Wilson's list of accolades runs deep. Through it all she has remained true to herself, letting her vibrant personality shine through in everything she does and establishing herself as the face of the league. Her journey thus far has been second to none and it's only the beginning for the young star.