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2022 WNBA season preview: Will the Atlanta Dream live up to their potential?

The Atlanta Dream come into the season with a lot of promise.

Washington Mystics v Atlanta Dream
Rhyne Howard at the free-throw line
Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Dream, coming off of a 8-24 season, are looking to completely rebrand and create a new identity as a franchise. Changes were made to this team from the top to the bottom.

First, the Dream hired a new head coach in Tanisha Wright and a new general manager in Dan Padover. Next, they released their top scorer in Courtney Williams as well as Crystal Bradford after a video emerged of a fight that they were involved in.

Then, they traded another one of their leading scorers in Chennedy Carter to the Los Angeles Sparks. The Dream eventually managed to resign Tiffany Hayes and Monique Billings as well as add Erica Wheeler.

WNBA Draft 2022
Rhyne Howard at the draft
Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

Five days before the draft, the Dream made a deal with the Washington Mystics to move up from No. 3 to No. 1. They would use that No. 1 overall pick to draft Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard. They then drafted Michigan forward Naz Hillmon in the second round.

With all of these different moves, the Dream will look to 2022 to be the year where they set up a long-term vision for the team going forward.

Reasons for hope for the Dream

The biggest reason that the future of the Atlanta Dream looks so bright is they have two promising young guards in Aari McDonald and Rhyne Howard. The Dream’s past two first round picks have the potential to develop into a great offensive duo.

McDonald, coming off the bench last year averaged 6.3 points and two assists per game. Should she manage to improve her shooting percentage, she could be a major contributor to the rotation.

Howard on the other hand didn’t take long to make her impact on the team, as in her preseason debut she scored 15 points on 4-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. She also had five rebounds, one assist and two steals. With this performance, Howard showed off the versatility and speed that made her a phenomenon at Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Hayes will likely take over as the leader and floor general of this team, having averaged 14.7 points and three assists per game. With her ability to shoot, steal and score from anywhere on the floor, Hayes can no doubt provide the kind of veteran presence that a team like this needs.

Billings and Wheeler are two other reliable veterans that the Dream can depend on for leadership. Both women can shoot well from the field and get their teammates involved, so they should be great offensive contributors.

Washington Mystics v Atlanta Dream
Erica Wheeler shooting the ball
Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Three forwards could help with the Dream’s lack of size inside: Nia Coffey, Cheyenne Parker and Megan Walker. Hillmon also might help on the inside depending on how far she can develop.

Reasons to concern for the Dream

Despite all of the promise, there are plenty of reasons that it might not work out for the Dream. The relative lack of experience on this team could be a liability going forward, with seven players with under five years of experience.

Even more concerning is that the Dream are a very small team with an unclear presence in the paint. The only center on the team is Kia Vaughn and it is yet to be seen if any of the forwards can be reliable rim protectors.

Washington Mystics v Atlanta Dream
Tanisha Wright talks to Aari McDonald
Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dream were a solid defensive team last year, being second in blocks and first in steals. The offense is where the trouble will be, as they were at the bottom half of the league in points and assists.