Here is the pool of players the Atlanta Dream will be considering for their 2023 roster:
- Rhyne Howard, starting SG ($73,584)
- Allisha Gray, starting SF ($194,600)
- Cheyenne Parker, starting PF ($216,100)
- AD Durr, second SG ($74,305)
- Aari McDonald, starting PG ($78,586)
- No. 6 pick ($71,300)
- No. 8 pick ($71,300)
- Danielle Robinson, second PG ($155,000)
- Monique Billings, starting C ($145,000)
- Nia Coffey, second SF ($130,000)
- Naz Hillmon, second PF ($64,657)
- Iliana Rupert, second C ($67,634)
- No. 15 pick ($65,290)
- Beatrice Mompremier, third C ($74,305)
- Lorela Cubaj, fourth C ($62,285)
- Mikayla Pivec, third PG ($62,285)
The Dream could start Cheyenne Parker or Monique Billings at center and have Iliana Rupert as their backup, but center is probably the biggest need for them at No. 6. Better to start Parker at PF and have Billings come off the bench, and they might be able to get someone who can be a starter right away at No. 6.
ESPN doesn’t have Iowa State center Stephanie Soares available at No. 6, but I think the Mystics may pass on a center at No. 4 since they have Shakira Austin and Amanda Zahui B. I could really see Soares going to Atlanta. She is 6-foot-6, can shoot the three and flashed some major potential early on this past NCAAW season for the Cyclones before getting injured.
Because center Elizabeth Kitley has decided to return to Virginia Tech, the drop off from Soares to the next-best available center is greater. Maïa Hirsch (France) and Monika Czinano (Iowa) are the next two centers projected in ESPN’s mock draft (No. 16 and No. 17, respectively). Hirsch has got some skills and Czinano has experience at a winning college program, but the Dream are probably really hoping Soares is still available.
Instead of getting a true center, Atlanta could also go with the height of 6-foot-4 Laeticia Amihere (South Carolina) or 6-foot-5 Dorka Juhász (UConn). Neither is a true back-to-the-basket player, but Juhász’s 3-point shooting and Amihere’s ball-handling are both valuable in today’s game, in which we are moving away from true centers. ESPN projects the Dream taking Amihere at No. 8 and they have Juhász going 12th overall to Minnesota.
After the center position is addressed, I feel like the Dream have pretty much everything else taken care of. They’ve got their point guard of the future in Aari McDonald, who was the No. 3 pick in 2021 and showed great improvement last year. McDonald can be mentored by former All-Star Danielle Robinson, who was picked up in the Kristy Wallace trade and still has a lot to give as a backup.
Shooting guard is probably the strongest position on the team with Rhyne Howard and AD Durr both being players who can take over games. Assuming you’re able to move both Parker and Billings to PF because you’ve drafted a center, you’ve got two great PFs and a third in Naz Hillmon who may be due for a big sophomore leap; she finished second in the second Athletes Unlimited competition.
Maybe you prioritize the small forward position because Allisha Gray is really more of a guard and Nia Coffey isn’t a huge star backing up Gray. Though Iowa State small forward Ashley Joens is projected to go 10th, I think she could almost be considered a steal at No. 8 given how versatile and prolific she is as a scorer.
South Carolina SG Brea Beal could play some SF too at 6-foot-1, and would be a tempting option if she falls one spot from her projection to No. 8.
The Dream will also likely have the option of getting an electric scoring guard at No. 8 with Lou Lopez Sénéchal (UConn), Zia Cooke (South Carolina) and Alexis Morris (LSU) all projected to be available. Or they could go with the steadiness of point guard Grace Berger (Indiana), who is an all-around solid player.
I see the No. 6 and No. 8 picks making the team, but I see the No. 15 pick falling just behind Iliana Rupert on the priority list and therefore off the 12-woman roster. Rupert was the No. 12 pick in the 2021 draft. ESPN projects the Dream to take Morris at No. 15.