The Atlanta Dream have acquired center Imani Boyette and forward Tamera Young, along with a 2018 second round pick from the Chicago Sky in exchange for forward Jordan Hooper and the Dream’s 2018 first round pick, transforming the edges of the WNBA playoff race.
Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press was the first to report the trade.
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The deal also ends the logjam in the post for the Sky, and clears the way for the signing of Alaina Coates, the team’s top pick and second overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft.
For the Dream, the move represents a full buy-in to both the team’s identity and desire to win now. Boyette immediately slots in as the team’s rim protector extraordinaire, giving Atlanta, already second in the league in block percentage, the chance to go big with a duo of Boyette and Elizabeth Williams, two of the top six in the league in block percentage last season. Boyette also has the ability to stretch the floor with her shot, making her a potential counter to Damiras Dantas, not to mention the opportunity to overwhelm teams at times with the three of them, a Sparks dimension to what was already a versatile Dream roster, improving upon a rebounding percentage that is currently tenth in the league.
As for Young, she is a classic three, capable of shooting it from the perimeter—34.4 percent from three this season. The Dream get just 16.4 percent of their points from three, lowest in the WNBA, so an added element of spacing should make driving lanes for Layshia Clarendon, Tiffany Hayes and Brittney Sykes even wider.
Both Young and Boyette have experience playing in a fast-paced system, thanks to Pokey Chatman, and no team plays faster this year than Michael Cooper’s Dream. Both are true two-way players, a prerequisite in Atlanta, and the Dream have filled two significant needs without sacrificing the team’s identity.
“It is tough to give up a shooter like Jordan Hooper but we need help rebounding,” head coach Michael Cooper said in a press release. “[Imani] Boyette provides us size with the ability to defend and rebound, while [Tamera] Young is a veteran presence, who is a hard-nosed player that can not only rebound but also knock down the mid-range jumper.”
As for the Sky, they added Hooper, a capable shooter. In addition to solving the logjam at center, it opens more playing time for young wing Kahleah Copper, acquired last offseason in the Elena Delle Donne trade, and who has played well for Chicago in limited minutes this year.
But the true prize is the potential lottery pick in 2018, a draft loaded with talent from Gabby Williams to A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Mitchell to Diamond DeShields. The Sky, losers of three straight, already appear on track to snag at least one of the lottery picks. The deal with the Dream gives them a chance at another.
“Hooper is a versatile shooter who is skilled at both forward positions,” Sky general manager Amber Stocks said in a press release. “Gaining an additional first-round pick to our already talent rich 2018 roster, further strengthens our impact.”
The problem with the deal from that perspective is that the Dream, as of now, wouldn’t be in the lottery. They are tied with the Seattle Storm for the eighth and final playoff spot, and now have strengthened themselves considerably. As of this writing, the Storm had yet to make a move, nor had they responded to an inquiry by The Summitt about whether they’d yet committed to head coach Jenny Boucek for the remainder of the season.
The Dream were not the only team in on the Boyette talks, with Dallas dangling Kaela Davis and a second round pick in a deal for Boyette, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. Ultimately, though, the Sky chose to solve their post overpopulation problem and look to the future at the wing.
And Atlanta, a team already in playoff contention thanks to a top-three WNBA defense, might have found a pathway to playoff relevance in a single stroke.