Chelsea Gray has emerged as a WNBA Finals MVP candidate thanks to her spectacular shooting throughout the postseason. In eight playoff games, the 5’11 guard out of Duke has averaged 23.3 points, 7.1 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 60.5 percent from the field and 52.0 percent from beyond the arc.
“She makes big plays,” teammate Kelsey Plum said per ESPN. “She wants the ball in big moments. You feel safe when she has the ball.”
Her tough shotmaking has been a critical reason that Las Vegas enters Thursday’s Game 3 with a 2-0 lead and a chance to sweep the series and win their first title in franchise history. Gray is playing with a level of confidence and swag that makes her the most dangerous player on the court. She’s recorded five 20-point, five-dime games this postseason, one short of the all-time League record, per ESPN.
Heading into Game 3, out of the 124 shots Gray has shot in the playoffs, 96 were contested. She has knocked down 61 (63.5 percent) of those contested shots. Significantly better than the 50 percent she hit on uncontested shots during Las Vegas’ run to the Finals, according to ESPN.
“What makes her so special is her ability to make contested shots,” Sun Coach Curt Miller said. “This league is filled with incredible players that make open shots. What separates Chelsea is she makes as many contested shots as anyone. Chelsea is elite at it, against a variety of players guarding her, in her face.”
When asked about Gray’s high-level play, Coach Becky Hammon spoke about how she and Gray immediately connected when Hammon first joined the Aces. The two point guards bonded over the fact they’ve had to deal with two serious knee injuries during their careers and can empathize with the process it took for Gray to rebuild her career after she suffered consecutive knee injuries before her professional career began.
“But it builds a toughness in you that you’ll need down the road,” Hammon said. “It’s devastating when you’re an athlete, but then you really only have two choices. You either don’t get better, or you work your ass off to get better. We’ve seen what Chelsea did.”
The Aces will look to finish off a series sweep of the Connecticut Sun on Thursday at 9 pm EST.