July 26, 2021
What Candice Dupree can bring to the Atlanta Dream
One of the league's legends is heading to the A: how will she fit in on O and D?
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Dream sign Dupree, banking on ‘veteran presence and stability’
At long last, the Atlanta Dream are betting on a veteran forward as first reported by Winsidr’s B. Terrell on Monday afternoon and later confirmed by The Next. It’s safe to say that bringing in Candice Dupree — a seven-time All-Star and the WNBA’s fourth-leading all-time scorer — is a smart bet to make. The team did not disclose the length or cost of the contract.
At its core, Atlanta is a franchise that is still working out its wrinkles and hoping to make a playoff push, and Dupree should help expedite that process with her leadership and decision-making on offense.
The defense is a different story. But more on that in a bit.
“I’m excited to be reunited with Candice after coaching her in college at Temple University,” said interim head coach Darius Taylor. “Candice brings championship experience, professionalism and a great basketball IQ to our team. She will add scoring, depth and stability to our post play. We are excited to welcome future Hall-of-Famer Candice to the Atlanta Dream.”
This move comes on the heels of Cheyenne Parker’s recent pregnancy announcement and interim coach Mike Petersen stepping down during the Olympic Break for health reasons. Assistant coach Darius Taylor will take over as the interim coach in the second half of the season, while Parker will miss the second half of the season in Atlanta. She had been playing through the second trimester of her pregnancy.
Atlanta is doubling down on its midrange game with Dupree’s addition and is banking on her fit within the team’s culture. Dupree averaged at least 10 points per game in each of the first 15 seasons of her career, with 2021 as the lone exception. She will add an interesting wrinkle as an off-ball threat in the team’s half-court offense with her screens, cuts and spot-up mid-range attempts.
It’s also worth noting that Dupree’s career has stretched longer than the entire Atlanta Dream franchise. If anyone has a nugget of wisdom to impart on a team, it’s likely her.
Defensive issues and the forwards moving forward
However, the Seattle Storm bought Dupree’s contract out in early July because her defense tells a different story than her offense and leadership. As The Next’s Em Adler chronicled, Dupree had the worst on/off-rating of any player on Seattle by a wide margin, and much of that was due to her struggles on the defensive end of the court, where she ranked in the 13th percentile among all WNBA players (including the 5th percentile on post-ups) according to Synergy.
That’s not a great sign for Atlanta, who has been dragging along with one of the worst defenses in WNBA history. But there’s good news in the nuance of this signing: up until this year, Dupree was, at worst, an average defensive player. Atlanta has the pieces to become the same competent defensive team that we saw at the beginning of the year.
Atlanta still has a murky future in the frontcourt. With Parker out, the Dream’s frontcourt is now comprised of:
Two glue bigs who can stretch the floor to at least 15 feet: Tianna Hawkins, Dupree
If the Dream wishes to double down on their offensive approach, lineups that feature Bradford and Dupree make a lot of sense. If they’re looking to buck the trend of a historically poor defense, sliding Dupree alongside Williams or Billings is a smart fit.