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Dream, Silver Stars Trade Analysis: Snow Fills Rebounding Needs

When I spoke with Silver Stars General Manager Dan Hughes in February, he was very clear about the fact that the team needed rebounding help.

San Antonio Free Agency Breakdown: An Opportunity to Fill Rebounding Needs - Swish Appeal
With a roster that included two of the league’s top 5 scorers in 2009 (guard Becky Hammon and forward Sophia Young) as well as the player with the third highest field goal percentage (center Ann Wauters) finding someone to score was certainly not a problem. However, despite playing a style of team basketball that would please most basketball purists, they weren’t exactly perfect last season.

The Silver Stars finished last in rebounding differential last season (-4.0), last in defensive rebounding percentage (67.8%), and third from last in offensive rebounding percentage (25.4%). In other words, it could be said that rebounding was by far the team’s biggest weakness.

"It is an area of concern and we will try to address it through free agency," said Hughes. "I do think it’s something we would like to address."

Rather than addressing the concern through free agency, the Silver Stars have bolstered their rebounding by trading for Michelle Snow.

Although Snow only averaged 4.26 rebounds per game (just inside the top 50 in the WNBA) in 2009, she was 7th in total rebounding percentage. As one of the best all-around rebounders in the league when on the court, she's a solid fit for the Silver Stars.

Most importantly is what this means for the Silver Stars' big picture.

While Snow is one of the league's top all-around rebounders, Laura Harper whom the Silver Stars added through the dispersal draft is one of the league's top offensive rebounders and a player Hughes is excited about.

San Antonio Free Agency Breakdown: An Opportunity to Fill Rebounding Needs - Swish Appeal
They Silver Stars have already re-signed Ruth Riley and added center Laura Harper through the dispersal draft, who just happened to have the 6th highest offensive rebounding percentage in the league last year.

"I think we got a big jump on [the rebounding] in the dispersal draft with Laura Harper," said Hughes. "What we really love is Harper is really different – she brings great athleticism, runs the floor really well, rebounds from a natural standpoint really good. So it’s gonna be fun to see her blend in. And we are very anxious to watch her in our system. But it will kinda play out in training camp – I think there’s room for all of ‘em."

With Harper being an outstanding offensive rebounder who will likely create more second chance scoring opportunities for a team with big scorers, Riley expected to come back healthier than she's been in three years, second year player Megan Frazee -- last year's top offensive rebounder by percentage -- expected to improve, and Snow the Silver Stars now have quite an imposing rebounding presence.

However, the immediate dilemma seems to be that if you add Ann Wauters to the mix, it really looks like a crowded rotation. One way to imagine resolving this dilemma is to consider that all Frazee, Harper, and Snow were all outstanding rebounders in limited minutes. Riley and Wauters are rather efficient scorers who don't rebound well at all. So although it looks "crowded", the Silver Stars could also constantly rotate post players in and out depending on matchups while keeping everybody fresh. It's not a bad strategy if everyone is satisfied with minutes, which shouldn't be a problem given the track record of their young rebounders.

What the Silver Stars clearly need to add next is a wing player, which Hughes said could mean Belinda Snell or someone else.

From the Dream's perspective, this trade would seem to give them a little extra money to sign the point guard they're looking for.

Atlanta Dream Free Agency Breakdown: de Souza Expected to Re-sign, Searching for Veteran Point Guard - Swish Appeal
"What I would like to do is sign a veteran point guard who can score from the three point range," said Meadors. "We’re still trying to find that – but we have to get one… We just feel like if we get a veteran point guard that will put us in a situation where we can challenge for that championship."

Whether that point guard comes via trade or free agency remains to be seen.

Transition Points:

  • Just to be clear, this trade probably has little to do with clearing cap room for Erika de Souza -- the Dream had enough room to sign her prior and have maintained that they expect to do so.

    Atlanta Dream Free Agency Breakdown: de Souza Expected to Re-sign, Searching for Veteran Point Guard - Swish Appeal
    Meadors on Erika de Souza: “Yes, I do expect to re-sign Erika de Souza,” said Meadors. “And what she brings to our team is she brings speed, quickness, athletic ability, size. She just is kind of like a do-all type player in the post area.”

    Forward Angel McCoughtry might provide additional motivation for de Souza to sign expeditiously.

    Team USA Selection Affirms Anticipation of McCoughtry’s Path to Stardom - Swish Appeal
    McCoughtry on whether Dream free agent center Erika de Souza would re-sign (Meadors has said she will): "She better come back or I'll kick her butt. You can quote me on that. We really need De Souza. And I know we just signed another European girl over there, but De Souza is really the backbone of our team, she's our big post presence, she's our leader. So we need her. I'm really hoping that she comes back."