December 7, 2015
The Atlanta Dream finished the 2015 WNBA season in fifth place with a 15-19 record. A disappointing season for a team that made consecutive post season appearances prior. As usual Angel McCoughtry led the way for the Dream averaging 20 points per game and being named to her fourth all-star team. Shoni Schimmel, who was selected in the first round of the 2014 WNBA draft by the Dream and named to the all star team in her rookie season gave the fans in Atlanta a lot to look forward to. Finally, McCoughtry would have the help she needed on the wing to go along with the bigs Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza. But for Shoni things didn’t start out as many had hoped. It seemed as if coach Michael Cooper felt that Shimmel didn’t come into training camp in an expected condition and therefore her minutes were limited to start the season. In addition to a rocky start, after the all star break, the Dream decided to part ways with their veteran center Erika de Souza in exchange for Damiris Dantas and rookie forward Reshanda Gray.
A team that was on the verge on winning a WNBA championship just two seasons ago looks to be in a rebuilding stage. If Shimmel comes into camp this season prepared, along with Hayes who has been a bright spot for the Dream since joining the team in 2012, the Dream may not have to rebuild after all. We expect McCoughtry to bring her usual production but she needs consistent help and she also has to become a better leader. The Dream’s weak spot this season was their point guard position after Celine Dumerc decided not to return to the team this past summer and instead fulfilled her national team commitment to France. Maybe she will return for the 2015 season but if not, Shimmel should have the chance to secure the starting point guard position and lead the team. Entering free agency, the Dream have a few pieces to fill.
The Dream’s unrestricted free agents this season are Matee Ajavon and Delisha Milton-Jones who both saw limited action due to injury. Also free agents but restricted are Sydney Carter, Tiffany Hayes, and Anika Henry. I don’t see the Dream allowing Hayes, their starting shooting guard, to go elsewhere. However, I am sure there will be teams after her and the Dream will have to match what ever offer she receives if they want to have some kind of stability in the backcourt. After losing de Souza midway through the season the Dream will have huge shoes to fill in replacing her. A player already on the team who could be a start would be Anika Henry. Henry has been with the Dream for four seasons and averaged almost 18 minutes per game this year. She produced career highs in both points and rebounds and could possibly be ready to take a starting role on the team. Lyttle, when healthy has been great for the Dream but she will need a new partner down low. Will it be Henry or will the Dream find a center in free agency? Also, what will they do about their point guard position? Will Shimmel take the reins? Will Dumerc return or will they find a new point guard on the market? My guess is that Shimmel will take over but it would be a great idea to bring in a veteran point guard to help guide and support her in her new role. There are moves to be made. I guess we will see what happens. What do you think the Dream need to do to get back to the playoffs? Leave comments below.
Unrestricted: Matee Ajavon, Delisha Milton-Jones
Restricted: Sydney Carter, Tiffany Hayes, Anika Henry