Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Bill Laimbeer will surely be faced with some tough decisions as he attempts to lead the Las Vegas Aces to the top of the WNBA over the next few years, but what to do with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s draft wasn’t one of them.
“Wasn’t,” as in, past tense. The decision was so easy, Laimbeer has known for quite some time exactly what he’s going to do when the Aces are on the clock for the first time as a Las Vegas franchise.
“We evaluated all the prospects,” Laimbeer said on Tuesday, “and we’ve decided who we’re going to go with.”
And if another team calls him up to try and make a deal on draft night?
“They wouldn’t even bother to call,” he laughs. “They know I wouldn’t trade it.”
While he stopped short of giving a name, it’s clear that Laimbeer intends to select A’ja Wilson with the first overall pick. The reigning NCAA Player of the Year has the size to dominate at 6-foot-5, and after averaging 22.6 points and 11.9 rebounds as a senior at South Carolina last season, she is poised to be an instant impact player at the pro level.
So the first selection won’t be very suspenseful. For Laimbeer, the hard work will come when it’s time to make the Aces’ other selections.
“The first pick is very easy,” Laimbeer said. “It gets more complicated as we also have 13, 25 and 32. That’s where the staff gets more involved. They put together [video] edits of different players and positions that we’re going to draft. We’re in the process now of putting together those tapes and coming to a conclusion on the group of players we’re interested in at each pick.”
The draft will be held in New York at 4 p.m., but Laimbeer will be at the Aces’ offices at Mandalay Bay. The team is hosting a draft party and is expecting around 200 ticket holders in attendance.
Laimbeer expects to address the crowd after making the (very obvious) first pick.
“I’ll pop out after the first pick to say hi to the crowd, but I can’t be there long,” Laimbeer said. “I’ll say a few words and I’ll be very happy.”