Dream

Dream Shatter Failure’s Backboard

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Wednesday afternoon proved monumental for those waiting for the Atlanta Dream to have an impactful offseason. In a trade with the Washington Mystics, the Dream acquired the number one pick in the 2022 draft. Yet, there are a few unanswered questions to ponder. Could we see Shakira Austin shatter all mock drafts by going first? Who won this trade: the Mystics or the Dream? Were the Mystics wise in building their draft class for the future instead of focusing on the upcoming season? Answers will arrive during Monday evening’s draft. Until then, consider potential solutions to these questions.

Shakira Austin Back to DMV

Starting her collegiate career at Maryland, it is befitting that Shakira Austin could head home to Washington as the third pick. However, one must note what the Atlanta Dream would miss. She had an impressive performance in the SEC semi-finals matchup between Ole Miss and South Carolina. Her 27-point double-double exemplified her offensive and defensive dominance. She embodies a core franchise player with a fierce personality, a desire to win, and is a floor general and leader. The team that lands Austin will receive a player who performs at all positions, wants to become a perimeter player, and has impressive potential as a perennial all-star.

The Wheel on the Bus

And what about the acquisition of Erica Wheeler? Wheeler brings speed, agility, and range to the floor for the Dream. She acted as an integral piece with the Los Angeles Sparks. A player whose shot extends from the perimeter to around the rim is a good match for the Dream. Last season, Wheeler averaged 13.6 points per game;  consistent offense is her game. Nobody can forget the ankle-breaking play against Sue Bird that sent the web into a frenzy of gifs, photos, and plenty of edits.

Yet, will guards clash or Atlanta trim minutes if Rhyne Howard, the projected top pick, makes her debut in Atlanta?

If the Dream seek to build offense, they have the guards to do it: Aari McDonald, Erica Wheeler, and potentially Rhyne Howard. McDonald, who received All-Rookie team honors last season, led all rookies in assists and steals. Although smaller in stature, size does not stifle McDonald’s defensive game. Also, she knows how to create moments and find open looks for her teammates. As she improves her three-point shot, only shooting 31% from behind the arc (per basketball reference) and enhances her ability to get to the free-throw line, expect an even more explosive player than what fans witnessed at Arizona. But, we have yet to factor in the Kentucky wildcat.

“Rhyne Tyme”

The first round of the 2022 WNBA draft may be one of the most potent classes of athletes. Although Kentucky had a short run in the NCAA tournament, Howard sits atop an SEC tournament championship.

What makes her so pro-ready? She averaged 20.5 points per game and shot 44% from the field. Howard hoops at the top of the key, low in the post, and runs the floor in all positions. From creating her shot to being a great passer and shooter, she can accomplish nearly everything on the court. And it helps, too, that she models her game after one of her favorite players, Klay Thompson.

https://twitter.com/KentuckyWBB/status/1493322275591884803?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1493322275591884803%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.on3.com%2Fteams%2Fkentucky-wildcats%2Fnews%2Fwatch-rhyne-howard-receives-special-message-from-klay-thompson%2F

On the other hand, there is always a significant transition from the collegiate level to the professional game. Defense looks a lot different when facing the greatest players in the world. Howard’s most vital area of improvement will be her motor. Will we see bouts of fatigue or loss of momentum following a slow scoring day? It will be an adjustment, but in the totality of her game, Howard stands to be a breakout star in this draft class.

Around the Corner

Throughout this offseason, the Atlanta Dream made moves to become a team to watch again. They added the offensive prowess of Wheeler coupled with the defensive dominance of N’dea Jones. Could we see a big three forming on the horizon? This could be the year the Dream return to playoff contention. Monday night, at 7 PM eastern, the bell will sound, and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce, “the Atlanta Dream select…” Viewers will brace for either an expected draft pick or an upset.

About Caylen Johnson

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