Atlanta Dream acquire Kalani Brown from Los Angeles for Brittney Sykes and Marie Gülich

Brown is headed to Atlanta, while Gülich and Sykes are off to Los Angeles

The Atlanta Dream have traded guard Brittney Sykes and center Marie Gülich to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for center Kalani Brown, the team announced Monday.

The Sparks drafted Brown from Baylor University with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft. In her first season in the WNBA, Brown averaged 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game.

“Kalani was a player we targeted as an organization as a key piece to the puzzle,” Dream Nicki Collen said in a statement. “While Kalani’s size is important on the boards and around the rim, she also has the ability to consistently step outside the lane and hit the face up shot. In a league full of exceptional centers, we believe we have added a player who has all the tools to be very successful in our system.  We are excited to welcome Kalani Brown and the entire Brown family to the Dream.”

Brown is now the tallest player on the Dream at 6-foot-7, and as Collen said, her size will be important on an Atlanta team that struggled defensively in the 2019 season. The Dream finished the year with the league’s eighth-best defense, with a defensive rating of 99.5.

The parallels between Brown and Gülich are fairly obvious — both are young, long centers who can help on the glass and also provide some shooting. Gülich spent her first season in the league in Phoenix, playing behind Brittney Griner, before being traded to Atlanta on the day of the draft in 2019. She averaged 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11.2 minutes per game in 2019.

Brown, meanwhile, played behind Chiney Ogwumike and the rest of the Sparks’ posts in her rookie year in 2019. With the Dream, she’ll be expected to take on a larger role and fill some gaps on the defense, as well as step up offensively to aid what was the league’s worst offense last season.

Also included in the trade was Sykes, who the Dream selected with the No. 7 overall pick in 2017 and played three seasons in Atlanta. The 5-foot-9 guard had the worst shooting season of her career last year, shooting just 36.5 percent overall and averaging just over 10 points per game on a team that struggled to score across the lineup.

The trade of Gülich for Brown, two relatively similar players, seems to suggest that the Dream think Brown will fit better in their scheme going forward. As previously reported by the AJC, the Dream are working on a contract extension for Collen, and this trade reflects Collen working to build the Dream’s roster into a team that fits the system she’s trying to run.

After a disappointing year in 2019, it’s no surprise to see the Dream making moves in the hopes of putting themselves in a better position for 2020 and beyond.

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