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Atlanta Dream - WNBA Prestige Rank 2019

Atlanta Dream – WNBA Prestige Rank 2019

Other than a historically poor opening season, the Atlanta Dream have been a success franchise in its 11 seasons.

Editor’s Note: In 2019, Nothing But Nylon created Prestige Rankings, a system designed to display the very best and very worst teams any basketball league has had to offer over history. Using points based upon various accomplishments or failures, we have ranked every WNBA team in multiple ways to show you who has truly run the show since 1997. We’re up to #5 Atlanta Dream, but take a look at all of the criteria and defunct teams to get a good idea of how things work.

ATLANTA DREAM

Years Active: 2008-Present
Prestige Score: 73
Prestige Rank: 8/23
Active Rank: 5/12

Breakdown

Other than a historically poor opening season, Atlanta has been a successful franchise in its 11 seasons. The team has finished below-.500 only three times and made the playoffs more than 70 percent of the time. Nothing has been more valuable than their three WNBA Finals run, and getting so far in only 11 tries is what has the Dream so high in these rankings even without a championship.

For the first time in our rankings, a team with a lower raw point total has a better score than opposition with more raw points. In fact, the Dream have fewer raw points than Indiana, New York and Connecticut but are ahead of them all. But, our goal is to level the playing field so teams like Atlanta that have seen more success proportional to their existence time are rewarded accordingly.

Atlanta has reached the WNBA Finals in 27.3 percent of its seasons. That’s ridiculous. Compare that to New York’s 18.2 percent, Indiana’s 15.8 percent and Connecticut’s 12.5 percent, and you can see why.

The lack of a championship is what keeps Atlanta outside of the top four, but the team is in great shape considering its age. No other active team has been more impressive with the amount of seasons they’ve had.

Atlanta Dream Totals

WNBA Championships: 0 |0 points|
WNBA Finals Appearances: 3 |180 points|
Series Wins: 7 |210 points|
Playoffs Wins: 17 |255 points|
Playoffs Byes: 2 |30 points)|
Playoffs Appearances: 8 |97 points|
Regular Season Top Record: 0 |0 points|
Above .500 Regular Season: 7 |28 points|
All-WNBA Player on Roster: 5 |25 points|
MVP on Roster: 0 |0 points|
Coach of the Year: 2 |10 points|
Regular Season Worst Record: 1 |-10 points|
Below .500 Regular Season: 3 |-12 points|

Total points: |1,354|

Fast Facts

Best Year: 2010

Three of Atlanta’s seasons – 2010, 2011 and 2013 – ended with 199 points, tying them as the team’s best-ever campaigns with identical accomplishments of WNBA Finals appearances and sweeps. We’re giving the nod to 2010, though, because it was only the Dream’s third season in existence and already made it to the league’s biggest stage, something most expansion teams wait much longer to attend, plus the upset the team pulled in the first round.

The Dream started the 2010 season 6-0 and were 14-5 by July 7 with a 108-103 home victory against Connecticut. But two four-game skids before the end of the regular season, including six losses in their last seven games, dropped their record to 19-15 and a fourth-place finish in the East, snagging the conference’s final playoff spot.

But Atlanta turned it on for the postseason. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the No. 1 seed Washington Mystics, the Dream found a combined 68 points from Angel McCoughtry, Coco Miller and Erika de Souza as they pulled off the opening upset, 95-90. In Game 2 at home, the Dream closed out the series with a certified beating, whipping Washington 101-77 to advance in the playoffs for the first time in team history.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta met the No. 2 seed New York Liberty, again traveling for the first game of the series. The same trend from the first round followed into this one, with the Dream winning a close game to begin with, then finding an offensive explosion in Game 2 that catapults the team into the next round. A tied game heading into the fourth quarter, Atlanta outscored New York 25-19 in the final 10 minutes to take Game 1, 81-75. Then the Dream surpassed the century mark again, topping the Liberty 105-93 in Game 2 to go to their first-ever WNBA Finals.

That’s where the party ended, though. The Seattle Storm, the best team in the league in the regular season, swept the Dream, 3-0, but not without a fight. Atlanta was within at least three in each of the three losses, with opportunities to force overtime at the end of Games 1 and 3. But the valiant effort wasn’t enough, and Atlanta went home empty handed.

Atlanta’s leading scorer was McCoughtry, who averaged 21.1 points per game. Iziane Castro Marques (16.9), Sancho Lyttle (12.8) and de Souza (12.4) helped complete the team’s scoring. Lyttle nearly averaged a double-double, snagging 9.9 rebounds per night to couple with her points. Shalee Lehning notched a team-high 4.8 assists per outing. McCoughtry received All-WNBA Second Team honors. The season was Marynell Meadors’s third as the Dream’s head coach and her first trip to the WNBA Finals at the position.

Points: 199

Worst Year: 2008

Unsurprisingly, Atlanta’s worst season was its first after the WNBA expanded to add it to the league. Bad it wasn’t just bad: it was historic.

The Dream played their first game as a franchise May 17, 2008, at Connecticut. They won their first game July 5, 17 games and six weeks later, still the worst start in WNBA history and close to 2011 Tulsa Shock’s record 20-game losing streak.

Atlanta won three of five following the unforgettably forgettable first 17, then relapsed back to losing. The Dream dropped another 10 in a row and 11 of their final 12 to close their inaugural season, sporting a 4-30 record, one loss off of the 2011 Shock’s record 31.

Betty Lennox was the top scorer with 17.5 points per outing. Ivory Latta (11.4), Castro Marques (9.3) and de Souza (9.3) followed her, with de Souza hauling in a team-high 6.6 rebounds per contest. Latta was the team’s leading passer with 3.6 assists per game. Marynell Meadors was the head coach, her first season, and fourth of her head coaching career after holding the position with the Charlotte Sting from 1997-99.

Points: -14

Winningest Coach: Marynell Meadors

Her overall record of 81-96 (8-9 in the playoffs) is sandbagged by the horrendous 4-30 season, but to call that campaign an anomaly in Meadors’s tenure is an understatement.

She spent two-and-a-half seasons as head coach of the Sting from 1997-99, then took a hiatus from head coaching until agreeing to become Atlanta’s first-ever head coach in 2008. After the awful start in the first season, Meadors led the Dream to a huge bounceback year in 2009, going 18-16 in the regular season and making the postseason for the first time. The next year, she had Atlanta in the WNBA Finals, then took them back to the Finals again in 2011. Then, in the middle of the 2012 season, issues with McCoughtry led to the Dream firing Meadors, a controversial move at the time.

Meadors still boasts the most wins of any head coach in Dream history. She is responsible for two of the team’s three WNBA Finals appearances and had Atlanta in the playoffs three of her four full years.

Prestige Rankings

No. 12 – Las Vegas Aces
No. 11 – Dallas Wings
No. 10 – Chicago Sky
No. 9 – Washington Mystics
No. 8 – Connecticut Sun
No. 7 – New York Liberty
No. 6 – Indiana Fever
No. 5 – Atlanta Dream
No. 4 – May 21
No. 3 – May 22
No. 2 – May 23
No. 1 – May 24

Photo credit: Scott Cunningham / Atlanta Dream

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