Dream hoping young roster takes step forward in 2023



The Dream begins one of their more anticipated seasons in years Saturday.

Boasting an uber young roster, the Dream have become a trendy pick to leap up the WNBA standings. In 2022, they went 14-22 under first-year coach Tanisha Wright, missing the playoffs by two games.

Still, the 14 victories were their most since 2018. Guard Rhyne Howard, the 2022 No. 1 overall draft pick, won rookie of the year by averaging 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. The Dream bolstered their foundation by trading the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft and a 2025 first-round pick to Dallas for Allisha Gray, who will make her debut against her former team Saturday (1 p.m., ABC).

Gray, 28, slots into the shooting guard spot and provides a needed veteran two-way player. She also brings a strong resume: Gray is an NCAA national champion (South Carolina, 2017), 2017 rookie of the year and a 3X3 Olympic gold medalist. She went to the playoffs four times with Dallas, including last season when she averaged multiple career bests. She shot over 40% from 3 and scored a career-high 13.3 points per game.

Point guard Danielle Robinson, a 33-year-old acquired from Indiana, and center Cheyenne Parker, 30, are the Dream’s other more experienced players. But the team’s depth is extremely young; after those three, the 27-year-old Nia Coffey is its next oldest player. That might not translate to immediate success, but the Dream’s potential has built excitement. And the collection of youth was why adding players such as Robinson and Gray was paramount.

Adding additional youth, the Dream selected Stanford guard Haley Jones No. 6 overall this year. Jones will be a lead ballhandler off the bench. She doesn’t provide much shooting – just over 21% on 3-point shots in her college career – but she should provide instant help as a playmaker and upgrade the team’s transition offense. The Dream also drafted South Carolina forward Laeticia Amihere (No. 8) and Michigan guard Leigha Brown (No. 15).

On defense, the Dream should be strong again after ranking fifth in defensive rating a year ago (101.8). But the team ranked 11th of 12 teams in offensive rating (98.1). The hope is adding players such as Gray, Robinson and Jones, along with the natural progression of Howard and others, translates to significant offensive improvement.

After opening at Dallas, the Dream play at Minnesota on Tuesday. Game 3 is their home opener at Gateway Center is May 28 against the Fever. The Dream are aiming for their first playoff berth since 2018.