Dream’s clean slate strategy made room for the star: Ryan Howard

Atlanta Dream was looking to resume.

After a few rocky seasons – suspension of players, lots of losses, revolt against team owner – it was time to try something new.

Nothing says clean slate like making a new roster.

Atlanta has only a handful of players from last year’s squad: Monique Billings, Ari MacDonald, Tiffany Hayes and Shane Parker.

Another piece came to light when Dream selected the first pick in this year’s draft and guard Ryan Howard from the University of Kentucky. Howard made history as the only former Wild Cat to be selected first overall by the WNBA franchise. Despite the strength of Atlanta’s efforts to ensure that Howard was part of their reconstruction, she feels no pressure to atone for past Atlanta team failures. ۔

“I knew what was going on, but we didn’t talk about it,” Howard said in a phone interview earlier this month. “We didn’t, and we didn’t even do it before the draft because it looks like it’s in the past now. Everyone here is basically new, so we just want to rebuild what we’ve done so far. What is it.

The Atlanta Dream Playoff is in controversy as the WNBA All-Star break is approaching, but barely. They are 8-8 after beating the Dallas Wings on Tuesday. For the first time under coach Tanisha Wright, their 6-4 start was promising for the franchise with less than 16 wins in the last two seasons.

Promising, yes, but not satisfactory.

The Dream has not made a place in the post-season game since 2018, when Nicki Collen led Atlanta 23-11 to win the Coach of the Year award. It was as if Dream Basketball’s heyday had returned.

After winning just four games as an extension club in 2008, Dream has won six consecutive berths since the season, including three tours of the WNBA Finals.

However, by 2019, Dream was once again at the bottom of the standings and would not win more than eight games in three consecutive seasons. There was also a commotion outside the court.

In 2020, The Dream gained the attention of the sports and political world when the team’s players publicly visited the Democrat Rio in Georgia. Supported Raphael Warnock, who was running for the Senate seat against Kelly Loffler, a Republican who co-owned the dream. .

Then last season, Dream suspended Guardian Channy Carter after 11 games for “harmful behavior to the team.” This May, guards Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford were involved in a fight outside a club in Atlanta. It wasn’t until after the season, when a video of the fight surfaced, that the WNBA suspended him. No one is with Atlanta anymore.

Nor is Loffler, who sold the team after losing to Warwick in February 2021. There are many new faces, including Wright, Howard and General Manager Dan Pedor, who were removed from the Las Vegas Aces in October. One month ago, Dream hired Morgan Shaw Parker, the team’s new president. With each move, Atlanta Dream has made it clear that it is looking forward, not backward.

“It simply came to our notice then. He added: “I saw it as a challenge, and I knew I was going to be with really good people, and we were going to bring in really good players.”

Howard averaged 20.5 points per game in the 2021-22 season in Kentucky and dropped out twice a year as a SEC player. He was named to the Associated Press’s first team in three of his four years in Lexington.

His transition to the professional ranks has been smooth. Through 16 games, Howard is averaging 16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He was named WNBA Hockey for the month of May.

She leads Dream in per game points and minutes (31) and is the top nominee for the league’s Rocky of the Year award. So far, it has confirmed everything Atlanta did to get it.

Five days before the draft, Atlanta made their first-round (third overall) and second-round (14th overall) picks with the Washington Mastic for the No. 1 overall pick. Additionally, Mystics could turn the dream they gained in trading with the Los Angeles Sparks into a 2023 first-round pick.

“When we looked at the trade, we found out in W that it’s really, really hard to get elite level players,” Pedover said. “And when you get a chance to get one, you really have to consider it.”

He continued: “To get us a player of Rhine’s ability to start this reconstruction process, we did not think we could eliminate it. And I think the other thing that We saw that it wasn’t just the 2022 draft – we looked at the draft from 2020 to 2023, and there weren’t many players we could compare to Rhine.

Although there is a lot of excitement for the road ahead, there is no illusion about the paddock that it will be an easy road. None of the team won the championship except Wright, who won the 2010 Seattle Storm.

“We need to get to where we want to be from a competitive perspective,” he said. “We want to be a permanent playoff team for years to come. We’ll see what happens this year, but I’m not sure we’re there right now.

Atlanta had four straight games before beating Dallas on Tuesday. Opponents scored at least 90 points in three of the four. In the last 11 games, only the top seed Las Vegas Aces scored more than 80 points against Dream.

“Defensively, we need to get back on our feet,” Wright said after a 105-92 loss to the Connecticut Sun last week. Atlanta averages 17.7 turnovers per game in a league. The Dream conceded 15.1 points per game due to turnover and another 9.3 points per game on fast break. But the defensive numbers aren’t all that bad: Atlanta is just behind Connecticut, with the third-lowest second chance points allowed (9.2) per game.

New Coffee leads the team with five defensive rebounds per game, but Parker and Billings are far behind with 4.8 per game. Parker also leads the team with 1.3 blocks per game and an average of 11.8 points per game.

“The thing we were dying for was that we needed to make sure we brought in professionals who would be respectful of each other and worthy of the city and this franchise,” Pedover said. We will be proud. “

What will it look like at the end of the regular season? Will the Playoff Birth or Major League Awards show that Atlanta is moving in the right direction?

“One of my goals is to be the best player of the year, but just being able to make a lasting and lasting impact on that team and just taking us where everyone wants to go is enough for me,” Howard said. There is no success without it. “

Dream will have to fight to stay in the playoffs, but Howard leads all cheats on average per game for minutes, points, steals, and 3 pointers and field goals. Early returns say she could be an elite player paid over and Dream thought she would.

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