As the end of 2021 draws near, WNBA.com is wrapping up the 25th season by recapping each team’s season. Take a look back at notable contributors and season highlights with the 2021 Season In Review. First up is the Atlanta Dream.
Coming into the 2021 season, the future looked bright for the Dream, as they brought back their main core, drafted Arizona star, Aari McDonald, at No. 3, and were under a new ownership group, including two-time WNBA Champion and former Dream star, Renee Montgomery. Renee made history as the first former WNBA player to become an owner and a senior executive of a WNBA team.
However, two weeks before the season, head coach Nicki Collen left, and the Dream faced more adversity as the season went on, losing two coaches, injury, and Chennedy Carter’s lengthy suspension. As a result, the Atlanta Dream ended their season 8-24.
The Dream look to rebuild their team for next season, as the majority of the 2021 team are free agents. The Dream have hired 14-year WNBA veteran, Tanisha Wright as the new head coach and Dan Padover, a two-time WNBA Executive of the Year, as the new GM to assist in the remodel. It will be interesting to see how Padover and Wright rebuild this team.
Note: The Atlanta Dream has announced that Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford will not return in 2022 after both were involved in an off-the-court altercation.
The elite guard came back in her second season for the Dream with more swagger than ever before, having a career-high season of 16.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game. Her success on the court resulted in her becoming a first-time All-Star this season, where she put up 15 points, 2 assists, and a block to help her team defeat the USAB Women’s National Team. On May 29th, the energetic guard had a clutch performance against the New York Liberty, leading the Dream in points (31), scoring 6 of the Dream’s 8 points in OT, and knocking down the game-winning three-pointer.
After opting out of the 2020 season, Hayes came back stronger than ever, ready to show the WNBA she still had it. Her true form showed at times despite injury this season. On September 14th, Hayes erupted for a season-high 31 points and 11-for-18 FGM against the Indiana Fever.
Before this season, Crystal Bradford hadn’t played in the WNBA since the Los Angeles Sparks drafted her at No.7 in 2015. Despite this, Bradford impressed the Dream in training camp with her unique style of play and made a WNBA roster for the first time in six years. She made sure the Dream didn’t regret their decision by becoming a major spark for the team with 8.8 points per game. Despite a season-ending injury midway through the season, Bradford made an offensive difference for the Dream, and her 1.3 offensive rebounds per game ranked fourth among guards in the league this season. On July 2nd, she had her best performance against the Seattle Storm, with career-highs across the board (17 PTS, 7 AST, and 4 STL).
🥵 Steal to a pull-up 3? That's how you feel Crystal Bradford? Alright.
— WNBA (@WNBA) May 29, 2021
Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Winner
On July 12th, the Atlanta Dream were named the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year at the Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN for their social justice efforts. As the winners, the Dream received a $100,000 grant that the team donated to the New Georgia Project.
The Dream were named the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year at the Sports Humanitarian Awards,
— Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) July 13, 2021
Four Game Win Streak
Between May 21st and May 29th, the Dream won four games straight against the Indiana Fever, Chicago Sky, Dallas Wings, and New York Liberty.
Aari McDonald Named to WNBA All-Rookie Team
Aari McDonald was named to the 2021 WNBA All-Rookie Team, after averaging 6.3 points. Her 59 assists and 25 steals led all rookies in the WNBA. McDonald’s 189 total points, 32 made three-point field goals ranked second. Additionally, McDonald led all first-year players with a 20.7% usage rate.
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 12, 2021