July 27, 2020
Chennedy Carter finds footing in Atlanta’s 105-95 win over Dallas
Carter had 18 points and 8 assists with just two turnovers in her WNBA debut
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Chennedy Carter. (WNBA Media Central)
Almost every time she’s asked about how Chennedy Carter will adjust to the WNBA, Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen says she thinks point guard is the hardest position for a rookie to play.
Not only are they adjusting to the speed and physicality of the game, which is a learning curve for any rookie, but they have to run the offense and know the playbook inside and out. It’s not an easy task.
Before Atlanta’s first game of the season on Sunday against the Dallas Wings, Collen said she thought she’d have to manage the game a little more than she usually does to keep Carter from getting overwhelmed.
“I think it’s putting your arm around her a whole lot,” Collen said before the game. “Allowing the game to slow down. Hopefully, if we’re rebounding and we’re playing in transition, it makes her decisions easier. I think it’s going to come down to me controlling the game, to some degree, at the offensive end when we’re not playing in transition. Keeping the pressure off her having to call a great game.”
Then Carter went out and scored 18 points while dishing out eight assists — and turned the ball over just twice as Atlanta won, 105-95. It certainly wasn’t a perfect debut, as she shot just 31.25% from the field and missed all four of her attempts from beyond the arc, but it showed signs of good things to come.
“18 and 8 is pretty good for a rookie in her first game,” Collen said. “I still think shot selection is something that she’s going to get better at. … The three wasn’t very smooth today for her, so just kind of [a] learning [experience]. She’s such a good jump shooter and she has the ability to create for other people. You saw when she can create and drop to Elizabeth [Williams], Elizabeth had a Nneka Ogwumike day at 7-for-7. Really proud of Chennedy.”
Five of Carter’s eight assists came on finds to Williams, who, as Collen said, had a nearly flawless game on the offensive end. Williams also made all three of her free throws to finish with 17 points without missing a single shot.
Carter dished out two more assists to Monique Billings, who scored a career-high 30 points and also grabbed 13 rebounds for her second career double-double.
Carter gained more notoriety in college and entering the WNBA for her scoring touch than her passing, so the eight assists stand out in her first game.
“I think I’m a good passer,” Carter said. “I think I’m a little bit underrated in my passing ability, so for me to go out there and really find my teammates and them finish and hit on some of those, it really just makes me look better as a point guard and us look better as a group. We put in a lot of work in training camp and I’m starting to really know them and find them. It’ll all come together. This is just game one.”
Again, Carter’s debut wasn’t perfect. She struggled somewhat on defense early in the game, but as she settled in, things improved at both ends of the floor.
As the main option for the Dream at point guard right now, with Courtney Williams just beginning her quarantine period after arriving at IMG Academy, Carter will be called upon to string together more games like this. And as she settles into the professional game and improves her shot selection, she’ll continue to improve.
“I was coming in, playing the point guard, I had to learn a lot,” Carter said. “Learn the sets, learn the plays and coach Nicki was right by me, helping me get through it as a rookie. She’s really made the process easier for me and my teammates have as well.”