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WNBA season in review: Atlanta Dream pin hopes on Rhyne Howard

Rhyne Howard averaged 16.2 points in her rookie season for the Dream. (Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 2022 WNBA regular season has come to a close, leaving the Atlanta Dream, along with the Minnesota Lynx, Los Angeles Sparks and Indiana Fever, on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

The Dream’s postseason bid came down to the wire, with Atlanta’s fate sealed after losing to the New York Liberty in the team’s regular-season finale.

Yet despite the disappointing end, the Dream have reason for optimism as the team looks to develop around their 2022 rebuild.

Atlanta Dream: Year in Review

What went right?

The Atlanta Dream’s 2022 campaign started on a high note before the season even began when the team selected Rhyne Howard as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft.

The University of Kentucky guard faced lofty expectations as she entered the league, but she met or exceeded all of them. Howard won WNBA Kia Rookie of the Month in all four months of the season, finishing her debut season averaging 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

Howard provides the Dream with a critical presence on both sides of the ball, ending her maiden WNBA run 11th in the league in points per game and fifth in steals per game.

After a 2021 marred by off-court turmoil, including Chennedy Carter’s extended suspension following a locker room confrontation, Atlanta enjoyed a relatively drama-free 2022 as the team turned an 8-24 record last season into a 14-22 record this time around.

What went wrong?

The Dream need work on their offensive production. They finished the regular season second-to-last in points per game behind 42% field goal shooting. Atlanta, however, is fourth in 3-point percentage and seventh in 3-pointers made, with a lot to like about the team’s perimeter game.

Dead last in assists, the Dream will need to develop their ball movement and shot selection as they build around Howard.

Youth also hindered the Dream down the stretch, with the inexperience getting in the way of Atlanta grinding out wins when it mattered most.

What comes next?

The Dream is a team on the rise, and they could speed their progression with a free agent signing or a savvy draft pick to improve their post presence.

Atlanta does have a chance at another No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft lottery, and the 2023 draft class is expected to be one of the most talented in recent history. That gives the Dream an excellent opportunity to add a generational talent to a roster that already features Howard.