Kelsey Plum’s and Jackie Young’s linear progression has been the kickstart of a potential dynasty. Yes, A’ja Wilson is arguably the best player in the league, Chelsea Gray is arguably the best point guard in the league, and the hiring of Becky Hammon was the final stamp that the franchise needed. Two of those things may not happen without the growth of Plum and Young. They have two different play styles and personalities but work together like peanut butter and jelly. 

Expectations were sky-high for Kelsey Plum after breaking the all-time NCAA scoring record and being selected number one overall to the then San Antonio Stars in 2017. Coming in with that kind of hype, and being a point guard is never easy in this league, and her rookie season was up and down. She shot better from the three-point line (36.5%) than from the field (34.6%). The next season, the franchise moved to Las Vegas, and they drafted A’ja Wilson. In Plum’s second season, she led the team in assists and shot 46% and 43% from the field and from three, respectively. In her third season, they drafted Jackie Young and acquired Liz Cambage making them the title favorites in some people’s eyes. The season as a whole was a roller coaster trying to get all of the pieces to fit, and Plum struggled efficiency-wise, which was understandable due to a new, unclear role so early on. I attest a lot of that to the coaching as well. The Hamby Heave did happen that postseason to send them to the conference finals against the eventual 2019 WNBA champion Washington Mystics.

It took her a few years to really gain the confidence and to find that consistency, and there were more questions after she tore her Achilles in 2019, which caused her to miss the Wubble in 2020. 

While KP was trying to find a legitimate role, so was Jackie Young, a number one pick in her own right, just like A’ja and KP. Jackie’s first few seasons were similar to Plum’s but she was able to make more noticeable strides from year to year, outside of the three-point shot. Young’s first three seasons she shot 31%, 23%, and 25% from the three-point line with her field goal efficiency only being low her rookie season. She shot 50% from the field in years two and three, which showed her strengths and what her biggest weakness was to that point. 

In the 2020 Wubble, Plum was out, and Cambage decided to sit out the season, and the Aces went to the Finals where they would lose to the Seattle Storm. For a player like Plum, that can do one of two things to your confidence and mindset, especially with the outside noise. It can either make you want to prove you were the missing piece or can make you believe that the team is better without you. 

In Plum’s returning season in 2021, she came off the bench after the signing of Chelsea Gray, and went on to win the Sixth Woman of the Year averaging 14.8 points, and 3.6 assists on 43/38/94 shooting splits. Young also had her best statistical season that year, with her role being a bit more solidified and simplified. 

The real jump happened for both in 2022 when Becky Hammon was brought in to become the head coach. She believed in Plum and Young and chose to start both with Gray, which has proven to be a nearly unstoppable trio. KP got MVP considerations and made All-WNBA First Team, averaging 20 points and 5 assists on 46/42/84 shooting splits. Perhaps even more impressive was the jump we saw in Jackie Young’s shooting, which helped her win Most Improved Player honors. She went from 25% from three to 43% (third best in the league, one ahead of KP), and averaged 16 points and 4 assists. There was no and still has yet to be, an answer for this trio of guards and A’ja Wilson on the court together. They won their first championship, and organizations have tried their best to build teams to take them down. 

Kelsey Plum 2022 WNBA Regular Season Highlights

In 2023, Young jumped up to 17 points per game, 52% from the floor, and 44.9% from three, which led the league by .01 over Sabrina Ionescu. Jackie also made the All-WNBA Second Team. KP struggled at some points of the season, but ultimately ended up with averages of 18 points and 4 assists on 47/39/91 splits. They would help lead their franchise to back-to-back championships in a series where they’d end up winning without Gray. A few years prior, that might’ve been a bigger issue, but they had the confidence and composure to handle that pressure. 

Jackie Young Highlight Mix! (Vol. 1) 2023 Season | WNBA Hoops

A’ja Wilson is the best player in the league in my opinion, and she is obviously the most valuable player to the team. But without the continued growth of Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, I don’t think they are back-to-back champions with a legitimate shot at winning three in a row. They would be the first team to win three in a row since the Houston Comets, who won the first four WNBA championships. This is one of the most tight-knit teams I’ve ever seen together, and that was before they even won a championship together. A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, and Becky Hammon are all obviously huge pieces of the pie, but I believe this team’s hopes of a dynasty are in the hands of their dynamic guards Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum.