August 24, 2021 

What Blake Dietrick brings back to the Atlanta Dream

Atlanta's best shooter from the 2020 season returns to ignite an offense.

About a week ago, Blake Dietrick was a full-time employee for Nike. Shortly after a call with Atlanta Dream interim coach Darius Taylor, she called up the sneaker industry titans and put in her two-day notice.

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The Dream signed Dietrick to a rest-of-season contract on Tuesday, fulfilling their need for shooting and consistency off of the bench amidst a rocky eight-game losing streak. Dietrick will be active and should play on Tuesday evening, per Atlanta Dream PR, when the team faces the Chicago Sky.

In her own words, Dietrick is happy to be back in the environment that precipitated much of her WNBA success.

“There was a conversation earlier in the summer about maybe coming back,” Dietrick said. “But Darius called and it just felt like a no-brainer. Obviously, I have so much respect for him as a coach, and I love this team and I love the city. So yeah, it was an easy decision for sure.”

In a press release, the Dream announced that Dietrick will replace Cheyenne Parker‘s roster spot. Parker will remain inactive for the rest of the 2021 season following the announcement of her pregnancy back in July. Atlanta’s front office notably filled Parker’s roster spot, rather than Chennedy Carter’s, which confirms that the Dream have not ruled her out for the remainder of the year.

For as much as the Dream will value Dietrick’s play in 2021, she’ll value her return to play under her new interim coach. Dietrick lauded her connection with the team’s coaching staff in 2020, which at the time included Taylor.

“I just feel like the coaching staff here really values me as a player and as a person,” Dietrick said in an interview with The Next’s Bailey Johnson last year. “I felt like [then-head coach] Nicki [Collen] understood what I brought to a team, whether I was on the court or not. I felt appreciated. I felt valued and that my hard work was paying off. Even if I wasn’t playing, that it was making a difference for our team, and just to feel that what you’re doing is helping the greater good. No matter where you are, you always want to feel that way, and I definitely felt that in Atlanta.”

On Tuesday, she told the media that she looked forward to reuniting with her old teammates, who (as Dietrick noted) helped flip a Georgia Senate seat after supporting Raphael Warnock’s campaign.

Dietrick has remained active throughout her time away from Atlanta, as she planned (and still plans) to go overseas when the season wraps up. That means, as far as game shape, she’s as close to 100 percent as the Dream could ask for.

If Tiffany Hayes and Candice Dupree remain out, Dietrick’s addition will leave the team with just nine healthy players.

Shooters shoot

The Dream have coveted 3-point shooting this season as Parker and Hayes have missed extended time while Shekinna Stricklen continues to shoot a career-low 17.5 percent from deep. If nothing else, Dietrick should alleviate those concerns. The Princeton product broke out in the bubble last year, eclipsing the team’s 3-point shooting record by converting 44.8 percent of her outside attempts.

“Well, let’s give me a couple of games maybe to get back in the loop,” Dietrick said while laughing. “But yeah, I’ve been shooting well. I really like the new ball this season; it’s Wilson, I think. It comes off your hand really nicely, so yeah, I’ve been shooting well in practice. We’ll see how tonight goes.”

Dietrick’s shot chart in 2020, riddled with 3-point attempts, via Basketball-Reference.

If patterns hold, most of her damage should come off of catch-and-shoot opportunities, as almost 85 percent of her 3-pointers were assisted last season.

After losing 15 of their last 17 games, and on the precipice of playoff elimination, the Dream could use any spark they could find. Luckily enough, they found one who should promptly make a difference.

Written by Spencer Nusbaum

Atlanta Dream and Big 12 reporter, breaking news and other things.

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