June 12, 2023 

‘There’s always things you can celebrate’ for Atlanta Dream

Takeaways after Atlanta's three-game home skid

ATLANTA – There are bound to be growing pains for the Atlanta Dream, the second-youngest roster in the WNBA, while it is without starting point guard Aari McDonald and veteran floor general Danielle Robinson for an extended period of time due to injuries.

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The Dream ended its two-week homestand with three-straight losses against the Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, and Connecticut Sun by a combined 40-point margin.

On Sunday against Connecticut, the Dream committed 26 turnovers – the most of any team this season.

Atlanta trailed by five points entering the fourth quarter before committing a turnover on five-straight possessions. Connecticut’s lead quickly grew to double-digits, allowing them to cruise to an 89-77 victory.

“It’s communication, it’s being indecisive, and then it’s being timid against aggressiveness,” head coach Tanisha Wright told the media. “So [for example], just standing there waiting for an action to happen, while someone else is being aggressive; now you’re on your back foot trying to make passes, while the [receiver] isn’t in position to be the aggressor.”

Injuries have caused Atlanta to lean on second-year star wing Rhyne Howard for an up-tick in on-ball, lead guard duties.

“The conversation is just to continue to be yourself, don’t let the fact that now you’re moving to a different position [affect you], but we’re really just positionless in terms of bringing the ball up,” Wright on her conversation with Howard.

On Friday, Howard became the fastest player to reach 100 3-pointers made in 40 career games, surpassing Cynthia Cooper’s nearly 25-year-old record of 41 games, according to Across The Timeline.

“There’s always things you can celebrate, so that’s definitely one of them,” Wright on Howard’s newest record.

Howard’s blend of compact, consistent mechanics, touch, and off-ball relocation instincts is simply special for a player of her size. According to Synergy Sports, the 23-year-old ranks in the 90th percentile on spot-up jumpers while ranking in the 80th percentile on off-screen jumpers.

Allisha Gray #15 of the Atlanta Dream goes to the basket during the game on June 11, 2023, at Gateway Center Arena in College Park, Georgia. (Photo credits: Adam Hagy, Getty Images)

Wright has also leaned on Allisha Gray in her first season with the organization. The 6’ guard is piecing together another all-around season with averages of 17.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game on a 23.3% usage rate – all career-highs.

Gray has been tough to stop when attacking off the dribble, as she understands how to maneuver her body to draw contact and get to the free-throw line. She currently ranks among the top five in free-throw attempt rate (44.3%) on 84.6% shooting from the line.

“I’m just being aggressive; when I go left, I mean, I’m all out,” Gray told The Next after a career-high 12 free-throw attempts against the Sun. “[For me], it’s just finding little ways to keep the defender on my body and draw the foul, but most importantly, just continuing to be aggressive.”

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Rookie guard Haley Jones also earned her first career start on Sunday, recording two points, four assists, and two rebounds in 32 minutes of action.

“It was matchup reasons,” Wright on her decision to start Jones. “You know, we’ll continue to keep figuring it out while we’re down [players] to see what works best for us.”

Next, the Dream will depart on a four-game road trip, beginning with a rematch at the New York Liberty on June 13, followed by games in Connecticut, Indiana, and Dallas.

“Our job is to get better, try to find opportunities to get better and areas we need to continue to grow in,” Wright said.

Written by Hunter Cruse

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

1 Comment

  1. Joe Blow on June 13, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Try playing Amihere.

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