The New York Liberty head into the last week of regular play prior to WNBA All-Star Weekend — and the subsequent Olympic break — firmly ahead of the pack with the WNBA's best regular season record, becoming the first team this season to reach 20 wins on Saturday.

With Breanna Stewart briefly sidelined, Sabrina Ionescu led the Liberty to a two-game sweep of the Chicago Sky, topping the score sheet in both games. Ionescu is currently averaging 19.4 points per game, the highest in her career (not including her three-game rookie year).

Las Vegas center A'ja Wilson shoots over Atlanta center Tina Charles on July 12th, 2024.
A'ja Wilson posted her third-straight 25-point, 15-rebound performance last weekend. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Aces excel behind WNBA MVP favorite A'ja Wilson

The Aces continued climbing the table behind A'ja Wilson's record-breaking run, finishing the weekend in third with a record of 16-7. On Sunday, Wilson became the first player in WNBA history to register three consecutive 25-point, 15-rebound performances.

With Sunday's 89-77 victory over the Mystics, Las Vegas has won 10 of their last 11 games following the return of starting point guard Chelsea Gray. The third-place Aces are now nipping at the heels of the Liberty and second-place Connecticut Sun (18-5), with the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm tied for fourth at 16-8.

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The push for playoff positioning grows fierce

Amidst the looming Olympic break, further down in the WNBA standings, sixth-place Phoenix dropped to 12-12 on a two-game skid, while Indiana won eight of their last 10 games to capture seventh.

Eighth-place Chicago currently holds onto the final playoff spot, with double-double machine Angel Reese boosting the Sky's stats despite back-to-back losses.

Speaking of double-doubles, Reese's record-breaking double-double streak came to an end after Saturday's loss to the Liberty.

A frontrunner for WNBA Rookie of the Year, Reese finished with eight points and 16 rebounds against New York, falling just a couple points short of what would have been her 16th-straight double-double. The LSU grad's record stands as the longest double-double streak in WNBA history, surpassing previous record-holder Candace Parker by three games.

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Next up: WNBA All-Star Weekend

Regular season WNBA play extends through Wednesday, with all eyes turning to the 2024 WNBA All-Star Game this upcoming weekend. The highly anticipated matchup between the US Olympic squad and WNBA All-Stars tips off on Saturday, July 20th in Phoenix.

Around the WNBA, big-name players A'ja Wilson, Kahleah Copper, Caitlin Clark, and Angel Reese made good use of Wednesday's jam-packed five-game schedule, kicking off a pre-All-Star Weekend campaign that promises not to disappoint.

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Aces' A'ja Wilson racks up a perfect 20/20

Two-time MVP A’ja Wilson was the star of the show yesterday, throwing down epic numbers in one of her most successful performances so far this season

Wilson registered a 24-point, 20-rebound double-double in the Aces’ 84-79 win over Seattle, marking the six-time All-Star's first-ever 20/20 game.

Storm guard Jewell Loyd’s 28 points led the game, but between Wilson’s numbers and fellow Ace Jackie Young’s 27 points, Vegas managed to leapfrog fifth-place Seattle to secure a fourth-place spot in the WNBA standings.

WNBA star Kahleah Copper of the Phoenix Mercury drives to the basket against the Dallas Wings
With 32 points, Mercury standout Kahleah Copper led the WNBA in scoring Wednesday. (Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images)

Top-ranked WNBA teams keep scoring

At the top of the table, the Liberty beat the Sun 71-68 to oust Connecticut from the pair's previous tie for first in the standings. 

2024 WNBA All-Star DeWanna Bonner’s 22 points led the Sun, while Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu sank 21 points alongside Breanna Stewart’s 18-point, 14-rebound double-double to extend New York's record to 18-4 on the season.

And in Phoenix, the Mercury dominated the last-place Wings 100-84 behind Kahleah Copper’s 32 points — the most drained by any player that day. Yet despite double-doubles from both Teaira McCowan and Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas fell to 5-18 on the season with the loss.

WNBA Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark shoots in a game against the Washington Mystics
WNBA rookie phenom Caitlin Clark dropped 29 points for Indiana on Wednesday. (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rookies Clark, Reese, and Cardoso put up numbers

Fever star Caitlin Clark owned Indiana's stat sheet yesterday with 29 points and 13 assists, becoming the first player in WNBA or NBA history to drop 25+ points, five rebounds, 10+ assists, five steals, and three blocks in a single game.

Clark's effort wasn't enough to hold off the otherwise struggling Mystics, however, who stunned the Fever 89-84 behind a monster 26 points from Ariel Atkins

Chicago's rookies joined forces to lift the Sky over the Dream 78-69, as Kamilla Cardoso added her own double-double to teammate Angel Reese’s record-extending 14th

This season, Reese and Cardoso have combined to average just under 20 rebounds per game so far this season. If that metric holds, they’ll make WNBA history with the highest average for any duo in a single season.

A 2024 WNBA All-Star banner hangs outside the Footprint Center
Only 15 regular season games remain before WNBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

What happens next for WNBA teams

With All-Star Weekend tipping off one week from today, only 15 regular season games remain before the WNBA's scheduled Olympic break.

Whether they currently sit in first or last place, all 12 teams will want to hit the ground running when play resumes on August 15th.

Today, NBA 2K25 announced back-to-back WNBA Champion, two-time WNBA MVP, and six-time WNBA All-Star A’ja Wilson as its latest cover athlete.

Las Vegas's newly minted all-time leading scorer, Wilson will grace the cover of the GameStop exclusive NBA 2K25 WNBA Edition. She will also be featured on the dual-league All-Star Edition alongside 2024 NBA Champion Jayson Tatum.

"Being featured on the NBA 2K25 cover is a big moment for me and a testament to the ever-growing fandom of the WNBA," said A’ja Wilson in Wednesday's press release. "Seeing more and more WNBA athletes scanned into NBA 2K25 to best capture the style and confidence of the league has been empowering, and I can't wait for fans to experience it in-game."

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Wilson has had a standout season so far. The back-to-back reigning Defensive Player of the Year not only topped the Aces' all-time scoring list, but also leads the league in points per game with an average of 27 and sits second in average rebounds per game with 10.9. In May, she announced a signature shoe deal with Nike, and later this month, she'll be heading to Paris as a part of Team USA's 12-player Olympic 5×5 roster. It will be the 27-year-old's second time competing in the Summer Games.

"In a year that showcases competition at the highest level — and in a play style that is uniquely one’s own, we’re thrilled to share Jayson, A’ja, and Vince as the NBA 2K25 cover athletes" said Greg Thomas, president at 2K studio Visual Concepts. "The development team has delivered another innovative experience for basketball lovers, setting up NBA 2K25 to be the next icon in this long-standing dynasty."

nba 2k25 wnba cover star a'ja wilson
"Seeing more and more WNBA athletes scanned into NBA 2K25 to best capture the style and confidence of the league has been empowering," said Wilson. (NBA 2K25)

The New-Gen version of the video game is available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Powered by enhanced ProPLAYTM technology, the release delivers the franchise’s most true-to-life basketball experience yet, offering players the ultimate control in how they dominate the competition in modes such as MyNBA, The W, and in The City.

According to the press release, the WNBA Edition will be available for $69.99 while the All-Star Edition will run $99.99. NBA 2K25 will be available on September 6th on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Despite a recent slump, the Aces are off to a three-game winning streak following Thursday’s 95-83 victory over Chicago.

Star point guard Chelsea Gray, who spent the first part of the season rehabbing from a lingering injury suffered in last year's WNBA Finals, has provided some much-needed depth in her return to the starting lineup. A'ja Wilson, Jackie Young, and Kelsey Plum all scored 20+ points in the win, with Wilson extending her league record of consecutive regular season games with 20+ points to 20.

But all was not lost for Chicago rookie Angel Reese, who tied Candace Parker's WNBA record for longest double-double streak in a single season with her ninth double-double in a row.

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Compliments abound for the Aces after the whistle blew on what was Theresa Weatherspoon and Becky Hammon’s first WNBA matchup as head coaches. The WNBA legends played together on the New York Liberty from 1999 to 2003.

"Look at [Hammon's] team," Weatherspoon told reporters in a joint press conference with her former teammate. "What they’re doing, where they’re going, how they play, and how much fun they have — that’s how we play. It’s beautiful to see, and of course a measuring stick."

The New York Liberty are now the top team in the WNBA, leading the league with a franchise-best 15-3 start to the season. 

Breanna Stewart leads the team in points (19.9), while Jonquel Jones leads in rebounds (8.7), and Sabrina Ionescu in assists (6.4). On Sunday, Ionescu had her fifth career game with 25+ points and 10+ assists.

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Meanwhile, Connecticut stumbled over the weekend, suffering back-to-back losses for the first time this season. They’re now tied for second in the league with a 13-3 record. 

Las Vegas's win over Connecticut began a two-win run for the reigning league champs, who look to regain their rhythm with the return of starting point guard Chelsea Gray. The team also became the first team in WNBA history to sell out all of its regular season home games. 

"I do think that the growth is just the beginning," Aces chief operating and chief financial officer Matt Delsen when asked about the surging ticket sales. "And I think that, you know, the viewership can and is going to continue to grow because these athletes are the best in the world at what they do."

On Sunday, the Chicago Sky got the tight 88-87 win over Indiana while Angel Reese posted a career-high 25 points and 16 rebounds in the win. Caitlin Clark was also impressive despite the loss, scoring 17 points and a franchise-record 13 assists, as well as six rebounds and four steals. 

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"This is what I do: I come out and perform," Reese said after the game. "I do what it takes to win every single day."

A number of celebrities were spotted enjoying the matchup inside Wintrust Arena, including Chance the Rapper, Jason Sudeikis, Sheryl Swoopes, and Knicks star Jalen Brunson. 

"It's good for the game, good for women's basketball, but also good for women's sports," Reese said of the buzzy crowd. "You see NBA players, rappers, legends that played in the league for a great long time come out and show support. You know everybody's watching right now.

"I think this is one of the most important times right now, and we just continue to keep putting on. I think both teams tonight did an amazing job putting on a show. It was fun. I had a great time, I'm sure the other team had a great time. I'm just happy we won tonight."

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

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"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

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Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

After earning two league MVP awards and back-to-back WNBA championships in the last four years, Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson has witnessed the WNBA’s recent glow-up firsthand — along with all the growing pains that come with it.

"Even after 2020, it was kind of like ‘Oh make me a sandwich, get back in the kitchen, this isn't a real sport,’" she told Just Women’s Sports last week. "Now we get the barbershop talk, we get the rivals, we get the talks, and I feel like that is when we see really true growth."

Growth in the WNBA can take a lot of different forms: There are the sold-out crowds, the record TV numbers, the overwhelming spike in merchandise sales, and a wealth of other data points that tell the story of a league ready for its time in the sun amid the larger sports landscape. 

Much of the league’s growing popularity can be attributed to a shining rookie class bringing more eyes to the sport, with off-court murmurings revolving around young stars getting attention from big brands as both pros and at the college level via NIL deals. But Wilson is quick to mention that generations of talented players have been pushing the sport forward for decades, and she sees her own recent opportunities as a piece of that evolving puzzle. 

The 27-year-old’s WNBA accolades are many, but she is also an Olympic gold medalist hoping for her second this summer, a best-selling author, and a worthy face of a still-growing league. She announced her first signature shoe with longtime sponsor Nike just before the 2024 WNBA season tipped off, and her latest venture has her joining Gatorade’s elite athlete roster.

A'ja Wilson drinking a Gatorade in black and white, with orange Gatorade sweat
A still from Gatorade's "Is It in You?" revival commercial. (Gatorade)

Wilson is one of the stars of Gatorade’s newest and largest campaigns, a slate of ads that place top women athletes in direct conversation with superstars of men’s sports past and present. The throughline from Michael Jordan to players like A’ja Wilson and Caitlin Clark has never been more obvious than it is now, a narrative the brand hopes to represent visually — through beads of sweat.

"I feel like it's just one of those full circle moments," Wilson said about the campaign. "As a kid, it's something that I've always been drinking — juice wasn't a thing, it was like, ‘Pass me the Gatorade.’"

Nostalgic affinity aside, Wilson also noted that in order for public opinion of the WNBA to continue to move forward, more players needed to be included in the daily discourse that surrounds all sports, which includes TV commercials and magazine spreads. Visibility leads to curiosity about how WNBA players excel on the court day in and day out, and she feels the league is ready to show off.

"I think that's the best thing that we can ever ask for," she said. "Learn about us, know that we're deeper than basketball players, know that we've been doing this for a minute, and we've been true to this, not new to this."

Yet working to be seen can sometimes be in danger of eclipsing the very thing a player wants to be seen for: playing championship basketball. Wilson says that while sometimes she feels like she "is on a plane more than walking the Earth," she never loses sight of the most important thing in her career. "I love having my voice being heard. I love meeting everybody and connecting with different people. But at the end of the day, the ball must go in the hoop," she said with a laugh.

The ability to balance a long book tour and a variety of offseason appearances with preparing for the WNBA season is something she attributes to her teams, both personal and within the Aces franchise. Las Vegas is one of the few WNBA teams with their own practice facility, and the investment has paid off in spades.

A'ja Wilson (L) #22 and Jackie Young #0 of the Las Vegas Aces pose with their 2023 WNBA championship rings
A'ja Wilson and Jackie Young tried on their 2023 WNBA championship rings in front of a sold-out Las Vegas crowd this month. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

"It is a game-changer to know that people are invested in you and pouring into you, because it's a lot to play, you pour out a lot," Wilson said. "When you have companies, you have a fan base, and a franchise that is like, ‘No, we're gonna pour into you,’ that's when you get the best out of athletes."

The Aces have needed Wilson at her sharpest to start the 2024 season. WNBA legend Candace Parker retired with immediate effect at the beginning of training camp due to lingering injuries, and the team has been without starting point guard Chelsea Gray since last year’s WNBA Finals (which, of course, the Aces won).

Despite the team’s setbacks — or, perhaps, in light of them — Wilson has responded without missing a beat. She already sits third in the league in points per game, while also leading the league in rebounds and sitting fourth in blocks per game. Her candidacy for a third MVP trophy is well on its way as she helps guide her team through an early bout of adversity on the court. Las Vegas has only suffered one loss thus far, but hasn’t always looked like their dominant selves through sections of games, particularly on defense, but Wilson’s perspective has remained solid.

"The past few years, we would go through this funk maybe post All-Star [break], or right before All-Star, but now it's just a little earlier," Wilson said. "But I love that for us because it really allows us to not be complacent — it really allows us to really dial into what needs to be done.

"Ultimately, if it was too easy, everybody would be going back-to-back."

Las Vegas Aces A'ja Wilson (22) in action, shoots vs Indiana Fever at Michelob ULTRA Arena. Las Vegas
Wilson goes up for a shot in a May 25th game against Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever. (Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

With the 2023 banners already raised and rings doled out, the 2024 roster is looking to build their own form of chemistry throughout a long season. For Wilson, the biggest goal through what’s expected to be a grueling Olympic year is just to remain healthy — in addition to setting her sights on adding to her trophy case.

"If I'm better than I was last year, that's a check-off for me," she said. "I don't really believe in championship or bust. I don't really like that talk, because it's too long of a season for us, and we have a lot of stuff going on now. Obviously I just want to be a winner in every aspect, and bringing up my teammates with me of course is going to be huge because I cannot do this alone."

Where A’ja Wilson goes, it seems, the larger conversation around the WNBA follows, inching closer to becoming as universally spoken about as professional men’s basketball. "I feel like once people really see and dial into — and I can only speak for the Aces because that's my team — what we do, man, that's when the real talk is coming."

The WNBA continues its historic trajectory one week into the season, with attendance and viewership skyrocketing across the board. 

Indiana’s Saturday game against the New York Liberty was the most-watched WNBA game ever on ABC, drawing 1.71 million viewers. The Sparks vs. Aces matchup that followed became the third most-watched WNBA game broadcast on ABC with 1.34 million viewers.

On Monday, the tense finish between Indiana and Connecticut drew 1.56 million viewers to ESPN, the second most-watched WNBA game to ever air on cable.

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Outside of the league’s viewership, both in-person attendance and merchandise sales have also been on a meteoric rise. On Saturday, the game between New York and Indiana shattered the single-game ticket revenue record in the WNBA, with the Liberty pulling in $2 million in sales. 

New York and Indiana played their home openers in front of more than 17,000 fans, with attendance up 14% year-over-year, according to the league. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Aces, the Liberty, the Wings, the Dream, and others have already sold out of their 2024 season ticket allotments.

Since April’s WNBA Draft, revenue from the WNBA’s official online store is up 2,260%, already blowing past total sales for the entire 2023 season.

While the numbers may cool somewhat as teams settle into their seasons, the pop in demand has already overwhelmingly delivered for the WNBA in 2024.

A first-of-its-kind sponsorship has hit the WNBA, with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) announcing on Friday it would be supporting all 12 players of the two-time WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces.

The deal grants each player $100,000 dollars in exchange for representing the city in 2024 and 2025.

"The offer's really simple: We want you to just play, we want you to keep repping Las Vegas, and if you do a three-peat, that'd be icing on the cake," LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill told the team in a video released Friday.

The news comes as WNBA salaries and team caps continue to be a point of contention in the league. With many players making less than $100,000 a year, outside sponsors have long helped bridge the financial gap for players. 

On Saturday, Aces coach Becky Hammon said that the local tourism bureau had reached out to all of the players individually via their agents, leaving the Aces organization out of the conversation entirely. The goal was to avoid breaking cap circumvention rules established by the league’s CBA.

"I'm going to put it to you real simple like this: Most of sponsorship people go after the top two people," Hammon said. "[A'ja Wilson] is taken care of — she's got plenty of stuff going on. [Kelsey Plum] has plenty of stuff. In this situation, from what I understand, is they wanted the whole team. So they went and called individuals, agents. I don't know the details. 

"I have nothing to do with it; the Aces don't have anything to do with it. It's just odd, but that's basically what happened."

Despite the apparent separation, the WNBA has launched an investigation into the legality of the sponsorship, according to multiple sources

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While the sponsorship does not directly violate the league-wide salary cap because the LVCVA did not orchestrate the sponsorship with the club, other teams are likely to raise questions about its fairness and whether or not it violates the spirit of the cap rules. The deal could potentially upend the balance of what teams are able to offer players in the free agency market.

"We have 100 influencers we pay to represent Las Vegas," Hill told the Associated Press. "This isn’t any different then that. All of these ladies are completely eligible to have sponsorships. We are just asking them to represent Vegas."

It’s not the first time the league has investigated the Aces for cap circumnavigation. Just last year, the team faced consequences — Hammon was suspended for two games while the team lost its 2025 first-round draft pick — for crossing league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.

"We get [things] from our agents all the time; they wanted it to be a big moment because it's something that's never happened before," Aces star forward A'ja Wilson said about the LVCVA's offer. "I don't understand the investigation; I haven't dived into it yet. I just looked at my phone [after the game] and was like, 'Oh, wow, just another day in the life of the Aces.' We can't ever start just normal, it's always going to be something, and that's okay."