Atlanta Dream Preview
First 3 Selections in 2013
Last 3 First Round Picks (Pick, Year)
Areas of Improvement
Around the team, so much is different.
When the Atlanta Dream open up their season on May 25, they'll do so without longtime coach Marynell Meadors for the very first time. The Dream's coach and GM from their inaugural season in 2008 through last year, Meadors gave way to Fred Williams last August, just before the postseason opened. And after Atlanta fell in the first round to eventual champ Indiana, the Dream will start their year without an appearance in the Finals to build on for the first time since the 2010 season.
But chances are, the actual team that coach Williams brings onto the floor will look a whole lot like it has the past few seasons, with the notable exception of Lindsey Harding, who signed with the L.A. Sparks in the offseason. But Angel McCoughtry's back. So are Erika de Souza, Sancho Lyttle, Armintie Price, Tiffany Hayes, Aneika Henry and Catherine Kraayeveld, to name a half-dozen. So don't expect the Draft to change the team's makeup too much, especially considering Atlanta's first pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft won't come until the No. 13 slot, after the Dream traded away the seventh and 19th overall picks to Washington for third-year guard Jasmine Thomas in February.
Not to say that the Dream doesn't have holes to fill -- or that the Draft doesn't have the right kind of personnel to do just that. It's just that, with a team built on its veterans, they'll be looking for someone who'll start her WNBA career on the bench. For a new gear to work into the machine.
"All we're looking to do is wait for all the other teams ahead of us to see what they're doing," Williams said. "When you have the 13th pick -- a second-round selection -- there's still a good quality player that'll fulfill your needs. So we'll be in the war room, trying to study, trying to see which player will be there. And there are a few we're targeting.
"We have such a veteran team that we'll be able to adjust to whatever players are left there at the 13th spot for us," he said.
As far as needs go, Williams said that Atlanta would love to take a post player -- although having de Souza (who missed half of 2012 to train with her Brazilian Olympic Team) for the entire year will help. But the Dream could also use some immediate help on the perimeter, where they fired at the league's second-worst shooting percentage (.295). And if all-around stars generally disappear by the midway point of the first round, set shooters who can hit from distance tend to remain.
"We want to improve that percentage," Williams said. "We don't emphasize that enough, but when you get down to postseason play, you have to be able to make that shot."
But for the shooters to fit in, they'll have to be able to defend, too. And run. A lot. Of all the things that will continue from the Meadors era, Williams said, few are more important than the Dream's style of constant attack.
"I think what we do really well is play up-tempo basketball," Williams, who coordinated the offense under Meadors, said. "We really force opponents to get back on their heels on defense and we want to continue that."
2012 (top 3 picks)
14. Tiffany Hayes
32. Isabelle Yacoubou
8. Ta'Shia Phillips
18. Rachel Jarry
32. Kelsey Bolte
9. Chanel Mokango
21. Brigitte Ardossi
33. Brittainey Raven
1. Angel McCoughtry (21.4)
2. Sancho Lyttle (14.0)
3. Lindsey Harding (12.3)
1. Erika de Souza (8.2)
2. Sancho Lyttle (7.6)
3. Angel McCoughtry (5.0)
1. Lindsey Harding (4.5)
2. Angel McCoughtry (2.9)
3. Armintie Price, Sancho Lyttle (2.5)