June 26, 2024 

Atlanta Dream notebook: Jordin Canada returns from injury, Maya Caldwell signed

Allisha Gray: 'I'm so excited. About time!'

The Atlanta Dream’s 2024 season, which began with high hopes after a strong showing in 2023, has not gone according to plan. Despite retaining seven players and all five starters from its playoff team, the Dream has faltered, managing only one victory against a top-six seed and starting with a disappointing 6-9 record overall.

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Help is on the way in Jordin Canada, even as the team has taken steps to address the absence of Rhyne Howard. Let’s take a closer look at all of it.

Stathead Stat of the Week

Ariel Atkins scored 36 points for the Mystics on Sunday. She was one point away from tying Elena Delle Donne’s franchise record for the most points in a game.

Stathead is your all-access pass to the Basketball and College Basketball Reference databases. Our discovery tools are built for women’s basketball fans like you. Answer your questions in a matter of seconds.

Canada returns

On June 23, Canada made her highly anticipated Dream debut after being sidelined for the first month of the season due to a hand injury sustained before training camp. The 5’6 guard, whom Atlanta acquired from Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade in February, was arguably the second-best point guard in the league last season, only behind Chelsea Gray

In her return, Canada came off the bench, recording six points, four rebounds, and two assists in only 14 minutes of action.

“Talk about dead legs and rust,” Canada posted on the social media platform X after the game. “Although we didn’t get the [win], it felt good to be back out there playing with my teammates. Giving myself grace and patience as I step back on the court!”

Before Sunday’s game, All-Star guard Allisha Gray was all smiles as she spoke about Canada’s return. “It’s about time,” Gray told reporters. “I’m so excited. ABOUT TIME. Dang!”

Despite the loss, there was a positive takeaway for the Dream with Canada back in the lineup. Atlanta executed eight pick-and-rolls (PnR) with Canada as the ball-handler, surpassing any single-game mark for Haley Jones or Crystal Dangerfield this season, according to Synergy Sports. 

Canada, one of the fastest players in the WNBA and the league’s highest-volume PnR operator in 2023, could significantly improve Atlanta’s offensive strategy. If the Dream maintains or hovers around its PnR volume from Sunday’s game when she plays over 30 minutes per game, it would be a noteworthy development for a team currently running the fewest PnRs in the league (13 per game).

“Our goals right now and our focus right now is to try and find small ways to get better,” Dream head coach Tanisha Wright said following Sunday’s game.

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Latest roster changes

Less than two months after joining the team, point guard Crystal Dangerfield was waived by Atlanta, the organization announced on Wednesday. The Dream added Dangerfield in a trade with the Dallas Wings on May 4 in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2025 WNBA Draft.

In 15 games with Atlanta, she averaged 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds on 27.8% shooting from the field. 

After waiving Dangerfield, the Dream used the open roster spot to sign 25-year-old guard Maya Caldwell with wing Rhyne Howard out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Atlanta only has two players above the league average 3-point mark (33.7%): Aerial Powers (39.3%) and Gray (38.2%).

Caldwell played nine games for the Dream in 2022, posting averages of 10.9 points and 2.4 rebounds on 56.3% shooting from 3. She followed former Atlanta Dream assistant coach Christie Sides to Indiana in 2023 but struggled to find the same consistency as a shooter, making only 13.8% of her 3s (4-for-29) in 10.1 minutes per game. Caldwell was cut in training camp by Indiana in 2024.

Overall, through 36 career games, she is shooting 36.2% on catch-and-shoot 3s. If Caldwell can return to near-2022 form, there’s intriguing upside with this signing for Atlanta.

Introducing Shelly Bean the Sports Queen!

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Shelly Bean the Sports Queen series is the perfect inspiration for the children in your life.  Action, bright colors, and representation in every story!

Key stats to watch

  • Atlanta is No. 12 in the WNBA in offensive rating (95) and No. 7 in defensive rating (105.6)
  • The Dream leads the league in post-ups per game (10.9) but ranks No. 11 in field-goal percentage on post-ups (41.4%), per Synergy Sports.
  • Atlanta is No. 5 in isolations per game (3.9) but ranks last in field-goal percentage out of isolation (22.2%). 
  • Here’s a breakdown of how Dream players are performing out of isolation:
    • Howard (46.2%, 15 FGA)
    • Powers (20%, 10 FGA)
    • Everyone Else (9%, 21 FGA)

Next up

A Friday night date with the Connecticut Sun on the road.

“The mindset is to get better,” Wright said. “We can’t focus on big-picture stuff right now.”

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Written by Hunter Cruse

Hunter Cruse covers the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA Draft for The Next.

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