The Atlanta Dream are optimistic heading into their season opener against the host Dallas Wings on Saturday at Arlington, Texas.
The Dream went from having the league’s second-worst record in 2021 to finishing one win shy of making the playoffs after going 14-22 last season. The Dream won a combined 15 games the previous two years.
Atlanta is counting on Rhyne Howard to continue to be the team’s foundation after last year’s No. 1 overall pick made the All-Star team en route to being named Rookie of the Year. She averaged 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 34 games last season.
Howard will be joined by Allisha Gray, who the team acquired in a trade with Wings, with whom she averaged a career-best 13.3 points to go along with 4.8 assists per game last season.
The Lynx also added a pair of first-round draft picks when they selected Haley Jones from Stanford at No. 6 and Laeticia Amihere from South Carolina two spots later.
While the Dream are looking to make the playoffs, the Wings are trying to become contenders after being bounced in the first round in each of the past two seasons. Dallas finished 18-18 last season.
The Wings made a major roster move on Wednesday, waiving Charli Collier, the top pick in the 2021 draft. She averaged 2.0 points and less than a rebound per game last season coming off the bench. She started 18 games in 2021, averaging 3.4 points and 3.6. rebounds per game.
Dallas will go as far as the trio of Arike Ogunbowale, Teaira McCowan and Natasha Howard takes them.
Ogunbowale has led the Wings in scoring since 2019 and her 19.7 points per game were fourth in the league last season, while McCowan averaged 11 points and seven rebounds per game.
Howard, a three-time WNBA champion, was acquired in a three-team trade with the New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun in January. She averaged 15.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game with the Liberty last season.
The Dream won two of the teams’ three meetings last season and are 4-2 against the Wings over the past two seasons.