February 1, 2024 

Dream trade for Jordin Canada from Sparks

Atlanta makes big moves to open WNBA offseason

The dominos are starting to fall for the Atlanta Dream in the 2024 WNBA offseason. They have finalized a trade with the Los Angeles Sparks to acquire point guard Jordin Canada and the 12th pick in the draft in exchange for guard Aari McDonald and the eighth pick.

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Canada emerged as one of the WNBA’s best point guards last season, making a case for an All-Star bid in the process. The 5’6 floor general became the first player in WNBA history to average 10 points, six assists and two steals in a season, according to Across the Timeline.

Canada also made tremendous strides as a shooter under Sparks head coach Curt Miller in 2023, posting a career-high 3-point percentage (33.3%) and 3-point attempts per game (3.2).

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She will be a superb fit alongside Atlanta’s All-Star duo of Rhyne Howard and Allisha Gray, adding much-needed pick-and-roll (PnR) initiation, rim pressure and live-dribble passing that was previously not on the roster.

With this trade, the Dream also retains Haley Jones and Laeticia Amihere, two key pieces of Atlanta’s young core.

Last season the Dream ran the fewest PnR in the WNBA (16.2 possessions per game) and shot a league-worst 36.8% from the field out of PnR, per Synergy Sports.

Additionally, on Jan. 31, the Dream agreed to a one-year deal with former Minnesota Lynx wing Aerial Powers, as reported by Girl Talk Sports TV’s Khristina Williams and later confirmed by The Next. Her contract is fully protected for $155k.

Powers, a WNBA champion with the Washington Mystics in 2019, has spent the last three seasons in Minnesota — with mixed results. 

Across 69 games with the Lynx, Powers averaged 11.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 39.8% shooting from the field and 31.1% from beyond the arc.  

A breakdown of Aerial Powers’ shot profile in the half court from the 2023 season. Data courtesy of Synergy Sports. (Graphic: Hunter Cruse | The Next)

Here’s a breakdown of her half-court shot profile from last season. The main takeaway: Powers’ discrepancy between pull-up attempts (56.6% of her FGA come on pull-up jumpers) and catch-and-shoot attempts (21.6% of her FGA come on catch-and-shoot jumpers), according to Synergy Sports. 

Though she is quite an effective midrange scorer (37.5% shooting on pull-up 2s) and draws fouls (36.7% free-throw rate in 2022-23) as a driver, she hasn’t shown much willingness to move and score without the ball. This makes it challenging to envision Powers adding value as a floor-spacer in lineups alongside Canada, Howard and Gray.

Why not let her run the bench unit? Well, Powers is far from a value-added passer and tends to be tunnel-visioned as an on-ball operator. 

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Last season, the 5’11 wing boded a 14.4% assist rate to a 14.9% turnover rate, per Basketball-Reference

Powers is also a significantly worse defender than she was as a critical cog in the Mystics’ 2019 championship run. Her effort on the defensive end also tends to coincide with how she’s performing on offense. If she’s missing shots, she’s more likely to take defensive possessions off and vice versa.

Despite Powers’ inconsistency on both ends of the floor in Minnesota, there’s real upside in this deal for Atlanta if the organization believes a change of scenery is what she needs to be a productive player again. However, this deal has a lot of downside if Powers is signed to a protected (or guaranteed) contract, which would give the Dream little wiggle room to go in another direction if the fit is murky. 

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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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