May 27, 2024 

Notebook: Where do Atlanta Dream stand through four games?

Stats and storylines after 2-2 start to the season

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Dream are looking to build on the momentum of their playoff birth in 2023. This incentive is led by a familiar core – over 60 percent of their minutes are being logged by returning players.

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Through four games, Atlanta (2-2) has picked up a pair of wins by single digits. One of which was a five-point victory at home over Dallas on May 21.

Although it’s still early into the season, let’s dive into some noteworthy stats and storylines through two weeks of action ahead of the Dream’s challenging stretch that includes three games in five days.

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Rhyne Howard makes history again

Atlanta is looking for Rhyne Howard to make another leap in her third WNBA season. So far, she has been nothing short of spectacular.

At 6’2, Howard is one of the best shot creators and movement shooters in the world. She is capable of getting her shot off with minimal space while making it look effortless. 

In the Dream’s 13-point loss to the Minnesota Lynx on Friday, Howard became the youngest player to record 20 points, five assists, five rebounds, and five steals in a game since Swin Cash in 2003, according to Across The Timeline.

Through four games, she is averaging 21.0 points and 6.8 rebounds on 45.9% shooting from the field and 38.7% shooting from 3.

“When I see one [shot] go in, then two and three go in, it makes me feel more comfortable,” Howard said following Atlanta’s win over Los Angeles on May 15. “It makes me want to be more aggressive overall. Some of them are heat check shots, but once you have it [going] like that, you can’t go away from it.”

As a rookie in 2022, Howard set a new franchise record with 85 3-pointers made, then broke her own record in 2023 with 99. Will she surpass it again? It certainly looks that way so far.

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Atlanta Dream guard Haley Jones dribbles the ball up the court in a game against the Minnesota Lynx on May 26, 2024 (Photo credit: @AtlantaDream on X/Twitter)

Haley Jones leans on Jordin Canada through struggles

With 8:07 remaining in the third quarter, Minnesota guard Courtney Williams hit a pull-up mid-range jumper over Haley Jones to extend the Lynx’s lead to eight points. Atlanta Dream head coach Tanisha Wright immediately called a timeout and made a substitution, inserting Crystal Dangerfield into the game for Jones. 

Following the timeout, Jordin Canada, a former WNBA champion with the Seattle Storm in 2018 and 2020, shifted over to sit beside Jones on the bench. There, she offered words of encouragement and advice to the 23-year-old guard.

“Jordin [Canada] is amazing. I’m trying to soak up all of the knowledge that she has,” Jones told The Next. “Also thinking about her career trajectory, getting to play behind Sue Bird [in Seattle], then becoming a starting point guard. Now, I get to have that knowledge from her.”

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While Canada is sidelined with a hand injury to open the season, Jones is leaning on the veteran guard as she continues to navigate playing the point guard position at the professional level.

“I think she’s helping me better understand game speed things like Rhyne [Howard] or Allisha [Gray] haven’t gotten a touch on the last two possessions; they need to get to their spots,” Jones said. “She’s also been like,’ Haley, you need to get to the basket. You’re getting so caught up in running the offense, you need to score.’”

Jones has looked a lot more confident as a driver through four games, already scoring on a pair of and-1s. For reference, she only had three and-1s in the entirety of her rookie season.

“I think it’s me getting back to what I do,” Jones said. “Last year, I was put in the position to do so, but I just didn’t. I let a lot of my nerves get to me. So this year, I’m coming in knowing Jordin [Canada] is out right now. The team needs me to step up and be confident. Me being aggressive opens things up for my teammates and allows me to make easier passes.”

After scoring less than three points in each of the last three games, Jones aims to bounce back. She hopes emulate her impressive 14-point performance on 4-of-6 shooting from the field against the Sparks on opening night.

Key stats to watch

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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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