After an underwhelming 2019 season and absence-, illness- and injury-plagued 2020 season, the Atlanta Dream secured the third pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft.
As Atlanta is in win-now mode — not only adding Cheyenne Parker, Tianna Hawkins and Odyssey Sims in free agency but also welcoming back Tiffany Hayes — this should be their last lottery pick for a while. With this in mind, the Dream brass of president and general manager Chris Sienko, director of basketball operations Brooklyn Cartwright and head coach Nicki Collen should prioritize adding a player who can emerge as a longterm co-star alongside Chennedy Carter, the No. 3 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
Atlanta also owns the No. 15 pick (second round) and No. 27 pick (third round). However, due to the fact that they already have 13 players on the training camp roster, it seems unlikely that either of these selections will end up the final roster. All the more, salary cap constraints may require the Dream to begin the season with only 11 players. Nevertheless, if a first-round level talent falls to the fifteenth pick, Atlanta should find a way to make a roster spot for her.
Here’s the players the Dream could target with their three draft picks:
First Round: No. 3 pick
Charli Collier, 6’5’’ Big, Texas or Awak Kuier, 6’4’’ Big, Finland
It is widely assumed that the Dallas Wings, owners of the No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks, will select Charli Collier (Texas) and Awak Kuier (Finland). However, as the Wings have four of the first seven draft selections, they certainly could do something unexpected. If Collier or Kuier remain on the board at No. 3, the Dream should leap at the opportunity to grab one of these bigs.
At 6-foot-5, Collier would provide the Dream with the rim protector they have lacked. While Elizabeth Williams is one of the league’s better defensive bigs, she is undersized at 6-foot-3. Williams also is in the final year of her contract. Collier could spend her rookie season learning from Williams before potentially replacing her next season.
If Kuier is available, she could be the understudy for Cheyenne Parker. In Parker, Atlanta acquired the dynamically-offensive big they have desperately needed these past few seasons. Kuier has the potential to be an evolutionary version of Parker, bringing a more fluid offensive skillset that could prove a perfect complement to Chennedy Carter.
Rennia Davis, 6’2’’ Wing, Tennessee
As it is more likely than not that Collier and Kueir will be off the board, the Dream’s main choice will between Rennia Davis (Tennessee) and Arella Guirantes (Rutgers).
Davis could emerge as Atlanta’s next Angel McCoughtry. Although lacking McCoughtry’s expert combination of craft, savvy and strength, the 6’2’’ Davis brings the type of versatile skillset sought after in the modern WNBA, able to play at the 3 or 4 on both offense and defense.
Still a bit unrefined offensively — as she is an inconsistent outside shooter who does not always score efficiently — Davis is more likely to make an immediate impact defensively, using her length and athleticism to disrupt the actions of opposing offenses.
Arella Guirantes, 5’11” Guard, Rutgers
As Atlanta seems to have a surplus of scorers — with Chennedy Carter, Tiffany Hayes, Courtney Williams, Cheyenne Parker and Odyssey Sims — Arella Guirantes is not the most intuitive pick for the Dream.
However, Hayes, Williams and Sims are not signed past this season. More critically, Guirantes — a three-level scorer with good size and elite speed — fits the bill as a longterm backcourt partner for Carter. The twosome certainly would cause tons of trouble for opposing defenses.
Guirantes also has enough strength and physicality to hold up on defense, which is important for any backcourt mate for the undersized Carter.
Second Round: No. 15 pick
Because of a roster size and/or salary cap squeeze, the Dream may look to grab an international player who they can draft and stash. They could target Shyla Heal (Australia) as a future backup point guard or Iliana Rupert (France) as an additional big.
However, the Dream might have the opportunity to draft a promising wing, something they certainly should take advantage of if they select Guirantes at No. 3.
While her spectacular play in the NCAA tournament suggests she may not make it out of the first round, DiJonai Carrington (Baylor) would be an interesting fit in Atlanta if she falls to No. 15. Her skill profile — dogged defense with more questionable offense — resembles that of Betnijah Laney, who flourished in her single season with the Dream. Could head coach Nicki Collen coax a similar level of play out of Carrington?
Another wing who might drop to the Dream is Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA). On the smaller size at 6’0” with a still raw skillset, Atlanta should pounce on the über-elite athlete if she falls into the second round.
Third Round: No. 27 pick
The player who Atlanta selects at No. 27 likely will only be a training camp invite.
While the Dream have multiple secondary ball handlers on roster, Chennedy Carter is the only true point guard. Selecting a player who can offer pure point guard play during training camp could prove advantageous. Names to consider might be Tiana Mangakahia (Syracuse), Kysre Gondrezick (West Virginia) or Micaela Kelly (Central Michigan).
The Dream also could look to bring in a defensive-minded backcourt player, someone willing to test the likes of Carter, Williams and Hayes during training camp runs. Possibly Que Morrison (Georgia)? Atlanta should have extra insight about Morrison, as the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year played for Joni Taylor, wife of Dream assistant coach Darius Taylor.