After the Atlanta Dream sent point guard Alex Bentley to the Connecticut Sun in a three-way trade that returned Matee Ajavon from the Washington Mystics, WNBA fans wondered how they would fill the vacancy left in their point guard rotation.
At the time, James Bowman wondered aloud whether there was, "Something behind the scenes that required the Dream to get rid of Bentley, in which case they got the best value they were able to get with Ajavon." Regardless of whether it was actually planned exactly that way, it turns out their answer - or part of it, at least - is to fill the position with France's 31-year-old Celine Dumerc as announced in a team release today.
"We're thrilled to add Céline Dumerc, one of the best point guards in the world, to the Atlanta Dream roster," said Dream Executive Vice President and General Manager Angela Taylor. "She has competed at the highest levels, in the Olympics and internationally, and is excited to compete with the best in the WNBA. She is a great leader, and a prototypical point guard who makes players around her better. She's a dynamic playmaker in the open floor, a veteran leader, excels in up-tempo systems like Coach Cooper's and will be a nice compliment to the players on our roster."
And in case you've forgotten since the 2012 Olympics, Celine Dumerc is awesome.
You don't have to take my word (or Angela Taylor's) for it: Team USA coach Geno Auriemma has already said that she was "the most important player and the most impactful player in the tournament" and there was plenty of statistical evidence to back up his claim, as written here at Swish Appeal back in 2012.
Celine Dumerc, as the team's heart and soul, deserves the praise that Auriemma gave her...The statistical evidence for Auriemma's point is pretty clear: when Dumerc was on the bench in the first half, before the game got completely out of hand in the third quarter, USA was better than France by a score 15-4. That leaves a 22-21 USA advantage in the first half when in Dumerc was on the floor - even when the deficit was still manageable for France, the difference with Dumerc on the floor to run the offense was quite stark.
That's not too surprising based on previous games - net plus/minus doesn't tell us a full story over so few games, but Dumerc was a +12.4, second on her team and had the second-best PER* of anyone in the tournament (32.93).
Since that time, I've been wondering a) whether a WNBA team would give the 5-foot-7 star a look and b) whether she'd actually want to come to the U.S.; the Dream might offer the perfect situation.
As of right now, Dumerc's primary competition at the point guard spot is Jasmine Thomas, who hasn't been a particularly efficient distributor or scorer throughout her career. What Dumerc adds is a more experienced floor leader who has a knack for making the right decision at the right time.
In the more immediate future, this obviously has implications for the Atlanta's approach to the draft: they were previously expected by some to draft a point guard with their first round pick (eighth overall), but that might not be the glaring area of need that it was before. And with Armintie Herrington having signed with the L.A. Sparks, a defensive-minded wing might be the ideal.
For more on the team's offseason, check out our Atlanta Dream offseason storystream.