If there is one word that perfectly sums up the 2022 Atlanta Dream, it is definitely promise. Even though they got off to a hot start and slowly fell apart down the stretch, the pieces are definitely there for the Dream to become a contender. The biggest piece of course is rookie sensation Rhyne Howard, who will almost certainly be the Rookie of the Year. It definitely was an interesting season, one that laid the foundation for something truly special.
The season started off well enough for the Dream as they opened with two straight wins over the Wings and the Sparks. Their only losses were to the Mystics twice and the Aces, two teams that would later go on to finish fifth and first, respectively, in the WNBA playoff standings. The biggest driving force was of course Howard, who averaged 17.6 points per game in the month of May.
The first official month of summer is when things started to go wrong for the Dream as after initially going 2-1 at home, they lost four in a row, two of them being close and two of them being blowouts. They then won a closeout game at home against the Wings on the back of new addition Maya Caldwell. They then lost three games in a row and on the last day of the month, they won an overtime thriller thanks to a great tying shot by Erica Wheeler in regulation.
July started off well enough as in Sue Bird’s final game in Atlanta, the Dream won convincingly over the Seattle Storm 90-76 the day before Independence Day. After that, they lost three straight times in blowouts where the offense just sputtered. They eventually managed to come back and beat the Mercury and the Aces in the desert in two very impressive victories. They couldn’t keep up the positive momentum and lost four straight to end the month of July.
The final month of the regular season was where everything just cratered for the Atlanta Dream. Initially, things seemed to be on the up and up as they started August with two straight wins over two lottery teams, the Fever and the Sparks, and then ended the season with four straight losses to eliminate them from the playoffs. The last game especially against the Liberty was a waste of a great performance by Howard, who had 24 points and seven assists.
What went wrong: There have been a multitude of factors as to why the Dream didn’t make the playoffs. You could point to the injuries suffered by important players such as Nia Coffey, Tiffany Hayes, Monique Billings, Asia (AD) Durr and Kristy Wallace. Even Howard herself missed two games down the stretch with an injury. You can even point to the inconsistent offense and defense and their inability to close crucial games. You could just chalk it up to the Dream being a young team that doesn’t yet know how to win the big games yet.
Biggest offseason question: Who will the Dream select in the draft? Everything will come down to the draft lottery as depending on where they land, they could get a really great prospect to add to their young squad, hopefully Aliyah Boston at No. 1 overall. Also, with the retirement of Kia Vaughn, they will need another center and if they manage to get the first overall pick, Boston would be a no-brainer. If they don’t, Elizabeth Kitley, Ayoka Lee, Tamari Key and Jessika Carter would be available for them to snatch up, so it’ll be interesting to see how the draft lottery plays out.