May 16, 2024 

‘It’s a blessing to be here playing for Atlanta’: Tina Charles shines in WNBA return

She became oldest player in franchise history to score at least 20 points

After 617 days, Tina Charles is back in a WNBA uniform. The former MVP didn’t miss a beat in her return, recording 21 points and 14 rebounds on 9-of-14 shooting from the field in Atlanta’s 92-81 win over Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

“For me personally, it wasn’t about the stat line,” Charles said postgame. “It was not just the opportunity to be back in the league, but to be alongside [head coach] Tanisha [Wright]. She always brought the best out of me when we were teammates in New York.”

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

Charles signed a one-year, unprotected contract with Atlanta this past offseason after sitting out the 2023 season. She finished in the top five in MVP voting in 2021, followed by a career-low in scoring (14.8 points per game) for Phoenix and Seattle in 2022.

It took a minute for Charles to get in the groove, but she caught fire in the second quarter. She scored on a couple of easy layups, then connected on a trailing 3-pointer in early offense to extend the Dream’s lead to seven points with fewer than five minutes remaining in the half. Charles let out a big scream as the Sparks called a timeout.

The 6’3 center added a game-high 17 points and five rebounds to tie the game at the break after trailing by as many as seven points.

It was not only Charles’ ability to create offense for herself with her patented post-fade but also how her post gravity1 creates favorable opportunities for her teammates. 

Watch this possession from the fourth quarter of the game: Charles is able to pull Los Angeles rookie big Cameron Brink over from the weak side slightly, which allows Naz Hillmon to establish a position for an offensive rebound against Brink. Despite not scoring on this possession, the threat of Charles’ jumper forces defenders to trap or dig on her post-ups. It’s a minute detail in a game, but these possessions can make a difference. 

“[She was] double-teamed almost every single time she touched the ball,” Wright said. “Having this attention towards her, eyes on her, I think that opens it up. [But also], I think you have to put pressure at the rim to open things up for Rhyne [Howard], Allisha [Gray]. [Charles] gives us a post presence and a player that puts pressure at the rim constantly.”

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

With her 21-point performance, Charles, at 35, became the oldest player in franchise history to score at least 20 points in a game, according to Across the Timeline.

Charles’ experience, post-scoring ability and 3-point spacing will continue to prove valuable for Atlanta as it seeks to return to the playoffs. 

“Just to be with Rhyne, just to be with Allisha Gray, and Cheyenne [Parker-Tyus], they’re just great players,” Charles said. “This is a great team, great atmosphere, so for me, the goal is to be present where I am. It’s a blessing to be here playing for Atlanta.”

  1. Situations in which players without the ball draw defenders to them, simply as a result of their threat of scoring in the post. ↩︎

Written by Hunter Cruse

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

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.