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Aces roster, schedule for 2020 WNBA season: Three things to know when Las Vegas plays at IMG Academy bubble

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 7/22/2020 Jasmyn Wimbish
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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic altering everything in the world, including how sports operate, the Las Vegas Aces were expected to be one of the few title contenders for 2020. They re-signed Liz Cambage, added five-time All-Star Angel McCoughtry and were returning their core that got them to the conference finals a season ago. However, a lot has changed since the 2019 campaign, starting with the season-ending Achilles injury to guard Kelsey Plum that will keep her out of the 2020 season. Additionally, the Aces will be without Cambage, as the All-Star forward decided to sit out the upcoming season and remain in her native Australia.

Both of these losses are huge for Las Vegas, but when you look down the rest of its roster, you see the team is still pretty loaded and well equipped to make the playoffs. The Aces still have A'ja Wilson, Kayla McBride, Dearica Hamby and Jackie Young, so don't be surprised if this team ends up making a run in the bubble.

With that being said, here's a look at the Aces' roster, schedule and some key storylines for when the season starts inside the IMG Academy bubble in Bradenton, Florida on July 25.

Aces roster

PLAYERPOSITION

Kayla McBride

G

Jackie Young

G

Sugar Rodgers

G

Lindsay Allen

G

Alex Bentley

G

Danielle Robinson

G

Angel McCoughtry

F-G

A'ja Wilson

F

Dearica Hamby

F

Carolyn Swords

C

Avery Warley-Talbert

C

Players sitting out: Liz Cambage, Kelsey Plum, JiSu Park

Aces schedule

All times Eastern

DATETIMEOPPONENTTV

July 26

2 p.m.

Chicago Sky

ABC

July 29

9 p.m.

Atlanta Dream

CBS Sports Network

July 31

9 p.m.

Phoenix Mercury

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 2

5 p.m.

Dallas Wings

ESPN2

Aug. 5

7 p.m.

Washington Mystics

WNBA League Pass

Aug. 7

8 p.m.

Los Angeles Sparks

ESPN2

Aug. 9

2 p.m.

New York Liberty

ESPN

Aug. 11

6 p.m.

Indiana Fever

ESPN2

Aug. 13

8 p.m.

Minnesota Lynx

ESPN2

Aug. 15

7 p.m.

Washington Mystics

WNBA League Pass

Aug. 18

8 p.m.

Chicago Sky

WNBA League Pass

Aug. 20

9 p.m.

Connecticut Sun

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 22

5 p.m.

Seattle Storm

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 25

8 p.m.

Dallas Wings

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 27

9 p.m.

Seattle Storm

CBS Sports Network

Aug. 29

3 p.m.

New York Liberty

CBS

Sept. 1

9 p.m.

Phoenix Mercury

WNBA League Pass

Sept. 3

7 p.m.

Connecticut Sun

WNBA League Pass

Sept. 5

5 p.m.

Atlanta Dream

WNBA League Pass

Sept. 8

9 p.m.

Indiana Fever

WNBA League Pass

Sept. 10

7 p.m.

Minnesota Lynx

WNBA League Pass

Sept. 12

7 p.m.

Los Angeles Sparks

WNBA League Pass

Key Storylines

A season without Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum: Even with the incredible depth the Aces have, losing Cambage and Plum this season is going to be tough. There might not be a more dominant player in the league than Cambage, who can impact the game in so many ways, whether it be with her physical play or high-intensity energy. Not to mention last season she ranked in the top 10 in both points per game (15.9) and rebounds (8.2), one of just five players to do so. It's not possible to replace Cambage because there isn't another player like her. However, as stated earlier, Las Vegas has a wealth of talent, especially in the frontcourt. That's where Wilson and Hamby come in. Wilson is the Aces' best player, so she's more than equipped to carry this team, and instead of sharing the floor with Cambage, she'll be down in the trenches with Hamby who will likely be elevated from the bench into the starting lineup. 

Then there's Plum, who during last season's playoffs averaged 15.2 points, 7.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds a game. While her regular-season averages pale in comparison to the performance she put up in the postseason last year, Plum is a vital piece to this team as the starting point guard who facilitates the ball to all the stars surrounding her. She was primed for a breakout season in 2020 after shining for the Aces in the playoffs, and her ability to push the pace for Las Vegas on offense will be sorely missed. In her absence, the Aces will lean on veteran Danielle Robinson, who they picked up in the offseason, to steer the ship at point guard. 

Welcome to Las Vegas, Angel McCoughtry: While the Aces will be down Cambage and Plum, they will get to see the debut of McCoughtry, who they signed as a free agent in the offseason. Over 10 seasons with the Atlanta Dream, McCoughtry positioned herself as one of the best players in the league. Essentially a walking bucket, she has career averages of 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals a game. She's also a five-time All-Star. On three occasions, McCoughtry led the Dream to the WNBA Finals but was never able to come away with a championship as the team around her in Atlanta never stacked up against her talents.

Now, though, McCoughtry will have a real chance at capturing a title on a stacked team like the Aces. While she likely wasn't expecting to take on as much of the offensive load as she's had to previously in her career, with a few players out this season, McCoughtry will provide Las Vegas with another scoring outlet. She's a master in the mid-range, has a dangerous stepback jumper to catch defenders off guard and can muscle to the rim to get points. The only concern, though, is that McCoughtry hasn't played in a WNBA game since tearing ligaments in her left knee in August 2018, causing her to miss the entirety of last season. While it's been almost two years since her initial injury, the Aces should proceed with caution as she tries to get a feel for the game again.

An opportunity for A'ja Wilson: Despite the addition of Cambage making the Aces a far better team, it did hinder Wilson's play a bit last season. It also didn't help that she missed a month of action due to a sprained ankle, which stalled her development. Still, though, she had a tremendous rookie year where she put up 20.7 points and six rebounds and was an undeniable force in the paint. She won Rookie of the Year and was expected to make another leap the following season. However, signing Cambage crowded the frontcourt a bit in Vegas, and Wilson saw a dip in scoring, as well as shots. While it isn't ideal, Cambage's absence will give the former South Carolina product a shot to spread her wings a bit more as the Aces plan to run their offense through her once again. 

When Cambage does return, head coach Bill Laimbeer has to figure out how to balance the talents of Cambage and Wilson on the floor to maximize the team's success going forward. Until then, though, expect to see a return to form for Wilson this season, where she knocks down turnaround jumpers, beats defenders off the dribble for a smooth layup at the rim and hustles for offensive boards to get easy buckets. 

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