2022 Draft Lottery Preview: Atlanta Dream

The 2022 WNBA Draft Lottery will be held Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) to determine which team will secure the top pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm. The rest of the draft order and the actual draft will take place in April.

The Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, and Dallas Wings (via Los Angeles) – are vying for the No. 1 overall pick with the lottery odds based on the cumulative records of the past two regular seasons.

We began our team-by-team look at the 2022 WNBA Draft Lottery with a look at the Indiana Fever and discussed the importance of winning the No. 1 overall pick. We continue our Draft Lottery preview with the Atlanta Dream, a team with the second-best odds of landing the top (27.6%) for the second time in franchise history.

Here are five things to know about the Dream headed into the Draft Lottery.

1. A quick recap of a tumultuous 2021 calendar year for the Atlanta Dream:

  • Feb. 26: Dream sold to new ownership group led by real estate investor Larry Gottesdiener and including Renee Montgomery
  • April 21: Dream fired general manager Chris Sienko a week after the 2021 draft
  • May 4: Head coach Nicki Collen leaves Dream to take head coaching job at Baylor, 10 days before season opener, assistant coach Mike Petersen named interim head coach
  • July 5: Chennedy Carter suspended for conduct detrimental to team, did not play rest of season
  • July 24: Petersen steps down as interim head coach due to health reason, Darius Taylor named interim head coach
  • May: Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford involved in off the court altercation
  • Oct. 6: Dream inform agent of Williams and Bradford the players will not return in 2022, both are free agents
  • Oct. 12: Tanisha Wright named new head coach
  • Oct. 25: Dan Padover hired as General Manager, Darius Taylor as Assistant General Manager

2. A team with new leadership and potentially a new roster. The Dream hired 14-year WNBA veteran Tanisha Wright as their new head coach after she spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach in Las Vegas under three-time WNBA Coach of the Year Bill Laimbeer. The Dream also found their new General Manager in Las Vegas as two-time WNBA Executive of the Year Dan Padover joined the Dream in late October.

Padover and Wright inherit a roster full of free agents, so they have a chance to remake their squad over the new few months, with the result of the Draft Lottery playing a major role in these decisions. It has been 12 years since the Dream last won the WNBA Draft Lottery, when they selected Angel McCoughtry with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft. McCoughtry is one of only three lottery picks in Dream history, along with Chennedy Carter (No. 4 in 2020) and Aari McDonald (No. 3 in 2021).

Two players the Dream must replace are Williams and Bradford as the team announced it would not re-sign the free agents following their involvement in an off-the-court altercation last spring. Williams was the Dream’s leading scorer (16.5 ppg), rebounder (6.8 rpg) and playmaker (4.0 apg) last season, while also ranking second in 3-point shooting (1.2 3pm per game, 38.2% shooting). Bradford was the Dream’s fifth-leading scorer (8.8 ppg), ranked sixth in both rebounds (3.8 rpg) and assists (1.5 apg), and third in 3-point shooting (1.2 3pm, 35.8%).

What do they do with Carter – the No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft and a unanimous selection for the All-Rookie team – whose sophomore season ended in July due to a suspension for conduct detrimental to the team? Carter averaged 14.2 ppg through 11 games before missing the final 15 of the season following the suspension. Carter and McDonald are two young lottery picks that were meant to be the foundation of the Atlanta backcourt. Is that still the vision?

3. As the Dream assemble their 2022 roster, they must address some of their shortcomings from 2021 – particularly being the worst shooting team in the league with a true shooting percentage of 48.9%. Atlanta finished 2021 ranked 10th in 2-point shooting (45.6%), 11th in 3-point shooting (31.0%) and 12th in free throw shooting (72.0%). Even if we remove the free throw percentage and only look at shots attempted, the Dream rank 11th in effective field goal percentage (45.8%), while allowing the highest opponent effective field goal percentage in the league (52.0%).

4. Allowing such a high opponent field goal percentage is what doomed the Dream defense in 2021 as they finished ninth in the league at 104.0 points allowed per 100 possessions. But there is a bright spot to highlight for the Dream defensively – they led the WNBA in steals (8.9 per game) and forced the second-highest turnover percentage in the league (19.4%). The Dream converted those turnovers in 17.3 points per game (3rd best in the league).

5. Between limiting their own turnovers (14.8%, 2nd lowest in league) and playing at the fourth-fastest pace (80.28 possessions per 40 minutes), the Dream attempted nearly three more shots per game than any other team (73.5 per game). However, many of those shots were created individually as the Dream ranked third in the league in isolation possessions (129) and first in pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions (634) according to Synergy play type data. Atlanta finished with the lowest assist percentage in the league (56.9%). The three teams with the lowest assist percentages (Indiana, Los Angeles and Atlanta) also finished with the three lowest true shooting percentages last season.