Season Review: The Dream had a nightmare season, but change is on the way

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Heading into the 2019 season, many assumed the Atlanta Dream would contend for a WNBA Championship, even with the expectation that they’d be without their franchise player, Angel McCoughtry, for at least a good chunk of the season. After all, the Dream brought back the majority of a roster that helped make a run to the semifinals the previous season. But, the expectations, assumptions, and hopes for this team faded quickly, almost immediately after the season started. For various reasons, the Dream just couldn’t get it right and put together the wins. 

What happened?

The last time the Dream finished a season in the single digit win column was their inaugural year in 2008. In that season, they went 4-30. This year, the Dream put together an 8-26 campaign and finished at or near the bottom of the majority of statistical categories. 

Offensively, the Dream tallied 71.2 points per game and shot 37.1% with 29% from deep. They were able to convert just over 75% from the charity stripe. Put simply, the points weren’t easy to come by.

They were able to pull down an average of 36 rebounds per game, but were still outpaced as opponents grabbed 39.5 boards per game. The Dream lead the league in blocks with an average of 5.4 per game.

Tiffany Hayes and Brittney Sykes were the only two Dream players to average over double digits for the season with 14.7 ppg and 10.2 ppg respectively. While not completely eliminated from playoff contention until late in the season, it was the 12-game losing streak near the end of the season that proved to be too much to overcome.

Bright spots!

Monique Billings and Brittney Sykes. These young players hustle. Billings provided a modest 5.5 ppg, but was second in rebounds with an average of 6.9 per game. With her bouncy step, she knew how to create additional possessions.

Sykes’ motor is unbelievable. As arguably the most athletic player on the roster, she constantly went for the loose balls and wasn’t afraid to attack the paint. She’s also a pesky and relentless defender.

What’s next for Angel?  

This is something to keep an eye on. As I’ve written previously, McCoughtry and Atlanta Dream are pretty much synonymous. She’s been the face of the franchise since being drafted with the 1st pick in 2009. From scoring titles to multiple WNBA Finals appearances to All-Star selections, she’s been with the team during highs and lows – more of the former than latter. 

Since suffering a knee injury in August 2018, McCoughtry endured a long rehab journey. It was anticipated that she’d possibly return around June or July until being ruled out for the remainder of the season. For the final game of the 2019 season, she dressed for a ceremonial jump-ball and then immediately checked out.

Was that the final time she’d don a Dream jersey? There’s much speculation surrounding her future, but based off of recent tweets, it seems like the answer might be yes.

Future Moves

The Dream hold the No. 4 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. With a plethora of viable prospects, immediate help could be on the way. Tiffany Hayes, hampered by an early-season injury, could return to her All-WNBA form and lead the team to new heights. Will Atlanta make strong moves during free agency? That’s a possibility.

The Dream organization recently unveiled a complete makeover of their branding and are refreshed along with heading into the brand new, but smaller, Gateway Center Arena. The cozy feel is completely different than State Farm Arena, but provides the opportunity to create a more competitive home court advantage along with engaging with a potential new set of fans.

The 2019 seasons is now behind the team and, now, it’s time to move forward. Equipped with literally a new look all around, Coach Collen will look to turn the page and write a different story for the team. Time will tell, so be sure to tune in.

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