The 2020 WNBA season is set to be the most unique in the league’s 24-year history. Teams have arrived at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL to begin training camp for a 22-game season with all games played at a single site without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic. The bubble is set and the season is set to tip off on July 25. In the lead up to the season, WNBA.com will break down each team in the league, beginning with the Atlanta Dream
2019 Season Recap
- 8-26, 6th in East, 12th in League
- Did not qualify for the playoffs
- Draft: No. 4 Chennedy Carter; No. 17 Brittney Brewer; No. 25 Mikayla Pivec; No. 27 Kobi Thorton; Pivec and Thornton both elected to forego the 2020 WNBA season
- Trades: Acquired Courtney Williams from Connecticut in a three-team trade that sent Jessica Breland and Nia Coffey to Phoenix; Acquired Kalani Brown from Los Angeles for Brittney Sykes and Marie Gülich
- Players Added: Signed Shekinna Stricklen, Glory Johnson, Erica McCall, Jaylyn Agnew, Betnijah Laney, Blake Dietrick and Alexis Jones as free agents
- Players Lost: Angel McCoughtry and Alex Bentley signed as free agents with Las Vegas; Renee Montgomery, Tiffany Hayes and Maite Cazorla elected to forgo the 2020 WNBA season; waived Alaina Coates
- Returning Players: Monique Billings, Elizabeth Williams
Who’s at IMG Academy
Between free agency, trades, the draft and players choosing not to participate in the season due to health concerns, the teams that take the court in 2020 may look a lot different than they did in 2019. Here’s a look at some of the key players that will represent the Dream in 2020.
- 2019 Stats (Texas A&M): 23 GP, 21.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 45.2 FG%, 25.3 3P%
- Carter is Atlanta’s highest draft pick since taking McCoughtry with the top pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft. Carter is an explosive scoring guard who has already been dubbed with the nickname ‘Hollywood’. It seems fitting as she has the making of being Atlanta’s next franchise star.
- 2019 Stats (Connecticut): 34 GP, 29.1 MPG, 13.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 43.5 FG%, 45.7 3P%
- Few players pack as much swagger and confidence into their game than Courtney Williams, who shined during Connecticut’s run to the WNBA Finals in 2019. She is a dynamic scorer that can get to the basket, score efficiently in the mid-range and hurt you from deep as she shot a career-best 45.7% from deep last season.
- 2019 Stats (Dallas): 28 GP, 24.1 MPG, 7.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 36.4 FG%, 34.0 3P%
- Johnson joins the Dream after spending the first seven seasons of her career with the Tulsa/Dallas franchise. Johnson’s numbers haven’t been up to her usual standard over the past two seasons. However, the two-time All-Star holds career averages of 12 points and 7.7 rebounds and could be an impact acquisition.
- 2019 Stats: 32 GP, 28.4 MPG, 9.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.7 BPG, 45.5 FG%
- Williams is one of just two returning players for the Dream and brings a consistent presence on both ends of the court. Her 1.7 blocks per game ranked fifth in the league, while her 6.5 rebounds ranked 16th.
- 2019 Stats (Connecticut): 34 GP, 23.7 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 2.2 3PM, 38.2 3P%
- The Dream were last in the league in 3-point shooting last season (29.0 3P%), so the addition of a sharpshooter like Stricklen (38.2 3P%, 12th in league last season) is a great fit that fills a need.
- 2019 Stats (Los Angeles): 28 GP, 13.5 MPG, 5.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.8 BPG, 47.0 FG%
- The seventh pick in last year’s draft played limited minutes for a Sparks team loaded with frontcourt talent. The 6-7 center out of Baylor gives the Dream a young big to build around.
1. How quickly can this team come together?
This amount of roster turnover is nearly unprecedented; the only other recent example is the 2017 Phoenix Mercury, which also had 10 new players on its roster from the previous season. With a condensed season of only 22 games to work with, the Dream do not have the luxury of time to build chemistry, define roles and learn a new system.
The Dream will have a mix of veterans such as Elizabeth Williams, Glory Johnson, Shekinna Stricklen and Courtney Williams and young talents like Kalani Brown, Monique Billings and a trio of rookies in Chennedy Carter, Brittany Brewer and Jaylyn Agnew for coach Nicki Collen to work with this season.
As Atlanta looks to rebound from a disappointing 2019 and challenge for a playoff spot in 2020, the speed in which this team can become a cohesive unit will be the key to their success or failure.
2. Can the Dream overcome the absences of Hayes and Montgomery?
The Dream had a tough challenge on their hands already as they tried to bounce back from a 2019 campaign that saw them go 8-26. But to add a few more hurdles to the race, they will be without two of their starters as Tiffany Hayes and Renee Montgomery have elected to not play in 2020. That’s in addition to the loss of McCoughtry, who had been the face of the franchise for nearly a decade, but missed all of last season due to injury.
While the absence of Hayes and Montgomery opens up time and opportunity for some of the new pieces to the Dream roster, losing two veteran guards that have been All-Stars in this league will be tough to replace. The addition of Courtney Williams and Shekinna Stricklen from a Sun squad that just made the Finals should certainly go a long way in helping soften that blow. Both players were integral pieces in the Sun’s success in the postseason and bring that experience with them to Atlanta.
3. Who’s ready for some Chennedy Carter?
The Dream were the lowest scoring team in the league last season (71.2 PPG) and their top three scorers from last year are either sitting out (Hayes, 14.7 PPG and Montgomery, 9.5 PPG) or are suiting up for another team (Sykes, 10.2 PPG).
If there is one thing we know about Chennedy Carter, it’s that she gets buckets – the 5-7 guard averaged 22.5 points per game over her three years at Texas A&M before leaving college early to join the W. Carter has been a scoring machine her entire career, so don’t expect much different once she makes her professional debut.
She can score from anywhere on the court – driving to the basket, pulling up from mid-range or splashing in threes from deep. Carter excels in creating her own shot both in the half-court and in transition with a full bag of tricks from a devastating crossover dribble to hesitation moves that freeze defenders in their tracks as she blows by them for a bucket.