April 16, 2024 

Atlanta Dream add international talent in the 2024 WNBA Draft

Atlanta looks toward future with draft haul headlined by Australia’s Nyadiew Puoch

The Atlanta Dream have focused on collegiate prospects in Dan Padover’s early tenure as general manager. However, with four players age 24 or younger already on the roster heading into training camp1, the team made a significant shift in the 2024 WNBA Draft, selecting all international prospects for the first time in franchise history.

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Atlanta used its first pick at No. 12, opting for Australian forward Nyadiew Puoch. This was followed by the selection of fellow Australian guard Isobel Borlase at No. 17 and Italian guard Matilde Villa at No. 32. All three draftees are expected to remain overseas for the 2024 season.

“We took a look at this draft and where we were picking, and we wanted to take the best possible talent for the future,” Padover told the media. “We thought we did that with these three picks.”

After returning to the playoffs last season, Atlanta, led by Rhyne Howard, Allisha Gray, and newly acquired point guard Jordin Canada, is trying to build a roster that not only remains competitive now but continues to look to build a championship contender in the future. It made steady progress toward that goal with each of its selections Monday.

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No. 12: Nyadiew Puoch (Southside)

Puoch, the No. 9 prospect on The Next’s 2024 draft board, has immense long-term upside as a 19-year-old combo forward with elite movement skills and defensive versatility at 6’3.

She averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds on 44.8% shooting from 2 and 28.9% shooting from 3 in 18.7 minutes per game for the WNBL’s Southside Flyers. 

“I think it’s amazing,” Puoch said on being selected by the Dream. “Like I haven’t been there before, but stories, everything I’ve heard about it, we’ve got fellow Aussies over there as well. We’ve got Paul Goriss that’s also there, as well, and he’s been good to me. He’s talked to me then and there.”

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Goriss, an assistant coach for the Dream, also serves as an assistant coach for the Australian national team. 

“​​Puoch has WNBA-level athleticism, great feel and reads defensively,” Goriss told The Next. “[She] can get in passing lanes for steals and deflections and has good length. Offensively, [she] plays with pace in transition, runs the lanes and attacks the rim. … She has very high upside and potential growth.” 

Puoch’s two-motion release has a hitch and odd hand actions that kill its smoothness, but her mechanics are certainly fixable. She has shot over 36% from beyond the arc over the last two seasons, primarily on catch-and-shoot corner 3s.

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No. 17: Isobel Borlase (Adelaide)

Atlanta selected another Aussie at No. 17. Borlase is one of the most productive teenagers in the world, earning All-WNBL First Team honors this past season with averages of 15.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

“Borlase is tough, physical and a great mover off the ball,” Goriss said. “She’s a good team defender, attacks the rim, [is] a willing passer and runs the lane well.”

Before the 2024 season, Borlase was known for her exceptional 3-point shooting ability. However, from her first to second professional season, her efficiency dropped by over 11% (39% to 27.5%) as she adjusted to a larger offensive role in Adelaide’s offense.

“She’s going to continue developing her outside game, but the skill set she has at that position bodes well for this league,” Padover said.

The 5’11 wing was also the youngest player on Australia’s roster at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February. Borlase added 10 points and two rebounds on 47.1% shooting from the field in 21.5 minutes per game across two games of action against Belgium and Serbia.

No. 32: Matilde Villa (Venezia)

Villa, the youngest player selected in the 2024 WNBA Draft, is the starting point guard for the second-best team in the Italian league, alongside Dallas Wings forward Awak Kuier and Minnesota Lynx forward Jessica Shepard.

The 5’7 guard averaged 10 points, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals on 48.3% shooting from the field in 26.5 minutes per game. 

“She has great court vision. She’s a facilitator,” Padover said. “She’s also getting great experience playing pro ball in Europe, so we really like her ability to see the court, and she has some of that European game to her. Like Puoch [and Borlase], we’re really excited to see how they grow from 19-year-olds into 20-, 21-, and 22-year-olds.”

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  1. Two-time All-Star Rhyne Howard, rising third-year forward Naz Hillmon and 2023 draftees Haley Jones and Laetica Amihere ↩︎

Written by Hunter Cruse

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

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