July 6, 2024 

What Jordin Canada’s injury means for the Atlanta Dream

A broken finger will keep Canada out for the pre-Olympic stretch

With 3:04 to play until halftime and trailing 36-33 to the Chicago Sky, Atlanta Dream forward Tina Charles secured a defensive rebound before handing the ball to Jordin Canada. The speedy guard trotted up the court in transition before delivering a timely bounce pass near the right wing for a cutting Haley Jones to finish on an uncontested layup.

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It’s those plays — leading to transition points — and possessions — with high pace — as to why the Dream acquired Canada from the Los Angeles Sparks in a sign-and-trade deal in February. 

“…Creative for others, and just setting the tone, being the spark in the starting lineup,” Canada said Sunday after the Dream’s 81-75 loss on the road to the New York Liberty.

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However, Atlanta’s return on its investment in the 5’6 guard has not gone as expected. Canada made her Dream debut on June 23 against the Liberty and has played in only four games this season, averaging 8.8 points, 6.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 50% from the floor in a little over 30 minutes per game. She missed the first 14 games of the season due to a hand injury prior to training camp. 

On Thursday, things took another twist when Atlanta announced that Canada broke her right finger in Sunday’s loss. Shortly after the news broke, Canada wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter) and said, “Minor setback for a major comeback.” 

With Canada out until the 2024 Paris Olympics break, the Dream will be without their offensive catalyst for the six-game stretch that started with an 85-82 loss at the Dallas Wings on Friday night. Atlanta (8-11) has lost eight of its last 11 games and is 1-3 in the four games Canada played in before the injury, now which has currently dropped the Dream out of WNBA playoff position. 

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Through the first half of the season, Dream coach Tanisha Wright has emphasized creating a faster pace offensively, establishing consistent ball movement and playing more from the inside to the outside. “Anytime we’re trying to play one-on-one, it does not bode well for us.” We have to use our skillset to play as a team,” Wright said on June 23. Despite missing Aerial Powers (left calf) and star Rhyne Howard (left ankle) due to injuries, Canada generated bright spots for Atlanta offensively and was aiding in Wright’s vision.

The Dream’s offense mainly consists of spot ups, transition, post-up possessions, along with limited uses of pick-and-roll—a key piece to Canada’s game—and some other concepts that have generated scoring off jump shots, finishes at the rim and catch-and-shoot opportunities, according to Synergy Sports. Through the first 14 games, the Dream hovered around 18.3 assists per game compared to 20.5—that includes 27 in Tuesday’s loss—in the last four contests. 

The Dream also saw increases in percentages in two pointers made (52.1), percentages in fastbreak points (11.0), percentages in points in the paint (48.5), two pointers made off an assist (67.7) as well as a higher ranking in pace (from No. 10 to No. 8 ) in the four-game span.

Even more, it is no secret that one of Canada’s biggest attributes is her ability to navigate out of the PnR offensively, where 18 of her 38 offensive possessions have initiated more than half of her total points scored in her brief Dream tenure this season, per Synergy Sports.

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With the absence of Canada’s scoring and her playmaking ability, Atlanta will be challenged to continue improving its offense with good shot selection, maintaining a fast pace and getting the ball inside to players like Tina Charles and Cheyenne Parker-Tyus in the paint.

“There’s no substitute for [Canada’s] experience,” Wright previously said about Canada on June 30.

However, Atlanta will look to Destanni Henderson to aid Haley Jones at the point guard position. On Friday, the Dream signed the former South Carolina star to a seven-day hardship contract. Henderson, who was drafted at No. 20 by the Indiana Fever in the 2022 WNBA Draft, participated in Atlanta’s two preseason games. However, she was waived on May 10, five days before the start of the regular season.

Atlanta’s remaining schedule before the Olympic break includes contests against the Connecticut Sun, the Sky, the Las Vegas Aces, the Seattle Storm and the Minnesota Lynx. 

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Written by Wilton Jackson

Wilton Jackson II covers the Atlanta Dream and the SEC for The Next. A native of Jackson, Miss., Wilton previously worked for Sports Illustrated along with other media outlets. He also freelances for different media entities as well. He attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism (broadcast) before earning a Master's degree in mass communication from LSU and a second Master's degree in sport management from Jackson State University.

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