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Brand new Dream: Overhauled Atlanta opens season at Wings

Sportsnaut
May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; A general view of the game ball during the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center.  Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Dream had an offseason overhaul of their coaching staff, administration and roster while the Dallas Wings have more continuity heading into their WNBA season opener Saturday at Dallas.

The Dream, who were 8-24 last season and 23-65 over the last three years, have a new coach (Tanisha Wright), a new general manager (Dan Padover) and only four returning players.

Wright and Padover come from a Las Vegas Aces organization that lost in the WNBA Finals in 2020 and the semifinals last season.

Wright was an assistant to Bill Laimbeer the past two years, and Padover, as general manager of the Aces, earned back-to-back WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year awards the last two years based on Las Vegas’ success.

“My ultimate goal is to help create a model WNBA franchise and bring a championship to the city,” Padover said. “Rebuilds don’t happen overnight, but this organization is now uniquely positioned to create a winning culture.”

Atlanta’s returners are shooting guard Tiffany Hayes, power forward Cheyenne Parker, center Monique Billings and point guard Aari McDonald (last year’s first-round draft pick). The newcomers include this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, small forward Rhyne Howard, point guard Erica Wheeler and small forward Nia Coffey (free agents signed from the Los Angeles Sparks).

The Wings return a strong core of guards in Allisha Gray, Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey along with post player Charli Collier.

They will be without forward Satou Sabally and newly-acquired center Teaira McCowan, as they finish their season with teams overseas.

McCowan was acquired from the Indiana Fever as part of a deal that involved draft picks, including the Fever getting Dallas’ No. 4 and No. 6 picks in the first round of this year’s draft.

Dallas second-year coach Vickie Johnson likes the depth of her team.

“We’ll have people coming off the bench that will play starter minutes; they’ll play more minutes than most starters throughout the league,” Johnson said.

–Field Level Media