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Atlanta has big shoes to fill without McCoughtry

It is no secret that Atlanta will be without Angel McCoughtry this year and need someone to step up. Which one of these four players will step up the most?

Chris Poss - Swish Appeal

The Atlanta Dream women’s basketball team are hoping to tally more wins this year, to polish their sub-par outing, as they went 17-17 last season.

The Dream has led the WNBA in fast break points for three straight years, and are among the best at forcing turnovers and getting out in transition, making each game exciting — and unpredictable.

This may be in jeopardy, as they will be without superstar Angel McCoughtry, who is among the league leaders in steals. McCoughtry also contributed on offense with the Dream heavily relying on her scoring prowess the past 8 seasons. Without her availability, Atlanta needs to look elsewhere for productivity.

The team is banking on forward Elizabeth Williams to step up to the occasion in McCoughtry’s absence. After a standout season, Williams gained the accolade of the WNBA’s Most Improved Player in 2016.

Last year, as a full-time starter, Williams averaged 11.9 points, 8.1 rebounds (fifth in the WNBA) and 2.3 blocks (second in the WNBA). Bria Holmes is also expected to consume the workload with McCoughtry out of the starting lineup. She appeared in all but one game for the Dream, averaging 7.5 points on 44 percent shooting.

Layshia Clarendon is also looking to improve on her as well as she enters her second year with the Dream. The California alum started 32 of 34 regular-season games last year, playing a big part in keeping the pace Atlanta needed. She averaged personal bests across the board: 10.4 points, 3.5 assists, 4.3 boards and 47 percent shooting, and she is projected to only get better this season.

The Dream enhanced their outside scoring by selecting Brittney Sykes 7th overall in this year’s draft. As a four-year starter for Syracuse, she averaged 19.2 points per game while shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc last year. Sykes also helped the Orange reach their first ever Final Four appearance in team history in her junior year. Atlanta will count on this type of play if they are to have a deep playoff run.

The team’s second-leading scorer, Tiffany Hayes will look to repeat her phenomenal breakout season a year ago. She recorded 15 points per game and hit 44 percent from the field during the regular season. She topped off her career year with a 30-point night in the Dream’s playoff loss to the Chicago Sky. Hayes will need this same performance, if not more with McCoughtry taking the year off.

Are the shoes too big to fill? Hayes and the rest of the team look to stomp the competition.

‘In with the new and out with the old’ seems to be the phrase of the summer for Atlanta. Production from the youngsters will ultimately determine the fate of the Dream this upcoming season.