Ten days ago, A’ja Wilson walked across the stage at Colonial Life Arena. On Tuesday night, Wilson played in her second career WNBA game, a 75-70 victory for the Washington Mystics at Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C. The Las Vegas Aces's record now stands at 0-2.
The first two games have been difficult for Wilson. Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer believes that she still has a lot to learn moving forward in her career, especially regarding how strong and fast players are in this league.
"She’s going to have to learn these things,” Laimbeer said. “She’ll struggle from game to game, in different aspects, but we keep talking to her about just little things she has to learn. You can’t wait, you have to attack right away, you can’t dribble into three people, they’re too big. You have to turn and shoot right away, that might be the best shot you’re going to get. All of the little things that she’ll learn over the course of time that will make her a better player."
These things will eventually come naturally to Wilson as she grows and develops as a player. She posted a double-double in her debut, then struggled a bit in game two, where she recorded 16 points on 6-15 shooting with eight rebounds.
“I thought she gets a bit frustrated," Laimbeer said. "She’s used to having open space and being able to drive by people ... I told her, “never ever second guess yourself’ she’s that good, and ‘don't ever put your head down.”’
Fellow rookie, Jaime Nared, who played against Wilson while at the University of Tennessee is very pleased to be able to call Wilson her new teammate rather than her competition.
“It’s a lot better ... lot easier being on the same on the same team as her just because she's such a dynamic player,” Nared said. “She can shoot the ball from 15- to 17-footers, she can drive, she can post up. She’s so versatile.”
Despite the chemistry that is being created with both Wilson and Nared, Wilson recognizes that she has a lot of learning to do. Her biggest takeaway from her first two games is her shooting and how she can continue to improve.
In Tuesday’s game, she was matched up against 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, who had nothing but praise for her.
“She’s a great player," Delle Donne said. "Awesome skill set. Super athletic frame, if you let her get you deep down in the post, you’re in trouble. It's going to be a fun matchup for years to come. I loved watching her in college and she's just going to continue to improve.”
On the court, Wilson’s perspectives are changing as she adjusts to playing at the professional level. This process is taking some time, but will unfold before Wilson's eyes once she blossoms into the player that she is capable of becoming.
"It's a process overall ... it's a slow process," Wilson said. "You can't rush it at all. Slowly but surely, I feel myself starting to come into the game and get a feel for it."