April 12, 2021
2021 WNBA Draft Preview: Atlanta Dream
Atlanta is the only team that holds its own pick in each round
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In a draft where 17 of the 36 total picks have been traded, the Atlanta Dream are something of an oddity. They have all three of their own picks and, assuming there aren’t any draft-day trades, will select with the third pick of each round — nothing complicated going on here.
And their draft strategy isn’t likely to be complicated, either.
In free agency, the Dream wanted to acquire a stretch four and guard depth, and they did just that. For the former, they signed Cheyenne Parker and Tianna Hawkins, both of whom can play the wing and add perimeter shooting. And for guard depth, Atlanta added guards Odyssey Sims, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Yvonne Turner, with the latter on a training camp contract.
With Tiffany Hayes back in action after opting out of the 2020 season and the Dream’s largest roster questions at least appearing to be answered, Atlanta coach Nicki Collen has accomplished what she wanted to ahead of the draft.
“You put yourself in position that, regardless of what it looks like, you potentially have the ability to take the best player and not be pigeon-holed into, ‘We have to take a point guard’ or ‘We have to take a big,’ ” Collen said in February. “You want to be in that situation where you feel like potentially you’re adding a player that can be a big part of your franchise for years to come as opposed to filling a hole that you need to fill right here and now.”
With picks at third, 15th and 27th overall, the Dream are in position to take the best player available. They don’t have large holes that need to be filled, so just as Collen said in February, they’ll be able to draft with a forward-looking approach.
That approach is going to bring a high-end talent to Atlanta, as the top end of the draft boasts names that fans across the country have become very familiar with. From Charli Collier to Aari McDonald to Dana Evans and more, the talent entering the WNBA seems to get better every year.
But for Atlanta, much like many other teams in the league, things aren’t quite that straightforward from a salary cap standpoint. Excluding the players on training camp contracts, the Dream currently have 11 players under contract and just over $50,000 in cap space. The No. 3 overall pick is due a salary of $68,000, and league minimum salary is $58,710, which means Atlanta will likely carry fewer than the maximum 12 players for this season.
So, while the Dream would like to draft a high-end, talented player that can be an asset for years to come, they’re going to have to make a decision between adding that player to the roster and keeping a more experienced player that may be a part of Atlanta’s quest to get back in the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
All that said, the Dream have a bevy of talented options at third overall. Perhaps it’ll be Tennessee’s Rennia Davis, who is maybe one of the best defenders in the draft and can also score at a pretty high level, or maybe it’ll be someone like Arella Guirantes out of Rutgers, who would add to an already incredibly deep guard rotation in Atlanta. McDonald will likely still be available, and maybe Collen and Dream general manager Chris Sienko will see her combination of scoring ability and relentless compete level as too good to pass up.
Regardless of who the choice ends up being, the Dream have the luxury of not having to draft for a particular position of need. The roster has rounded out relatively well, with no real holes remaining, and that’s exactly what Collen set out to do in the offseason.
Other team-by-team WNBA Draft previews: