Becky Hammon of the Las Vegas Aces was named WNBA Coach of the Year 2022, the league announced Friday, making her the first former WNBA player to win the award in her debut season as head coach.
Hammon received 27 out of 56 votes from a panel of members of the sports media, while Atlanta Dream’s Tanisha Wright – another former WNBA player turned coach – came in second with 18. Chicago Sky’s James Wade got eight, while Vickie from Dallas Johnson, Vanessa Nygaard of Phoenix and Mike Thibault of Washington collected one each.
Hammon becomes the seventh coach in WNBA history to take home the Coach of the Year title in their first season.
The #1-seeded Aces, who led Hammon to a 26-10 regular season finish, will face fourth-seeded Seattle Storm in a best-of-five semifinal series starting Sunday. The Aces’ regular season winning percentage (0.722) is the second highest win percentage ever for a starting head coach.
Las Vegas hopes to earn a franchise-first WNBA title after progressing to at least the semifinals under Bill Laimbeer each of the previous three years. If the Aces win the title, Hammon would become the first freshman head coach to win a WNBA championship since Van Chancellor did with the Houston Comets in the league’s inaugural season in 1997.
Following Laimbeer’s departure this past season, Hammon came in eager to implement a pace-and-space, reading-heavy attack with a barrage of three-pointers, a far cry from Laimbeer’s more old-fashioned approach that aimed to ball in the post. The Aces thrived under the new style: Hammon’s 9-1 regular season start marked the best 10-game head coach career start in league history, and the team’s .722 regular season win rate is the third best in franchise history. Hammon also led the Aces to win the Commissioner’s Cup’s second annual championship game 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 has broken a slew of WNBA records: Last week, it scored the most 3s in any game with 23 in the first-round playoff matchup against the Phoenix Mercury, and the 90.4 points per game marked the third-highest scoring average in league history, and highest since 2010.
Hammon’s starting five – A’ja 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 nominee Wilson, Most Improved prospect Young and anticipated all-WNBA roster Plum, while Gray earned her when she was named MVP of the Commissioner’s Cup championship game. .
Hammon’s storied WNBA career spanned 16 seasons, including eight with the San Antonio Silver Stars, the predecessor to the Aces prior to the franchise’s move. She was recently named one of the top 25 players in the league’s history. After her playing career ended, Hammon served as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs for eight seasons, with whom she became the first full-time female assistant in NBA history.
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