Atlanta Dream Made a Splash, Signing Renee Montgomery on the First Day of Free Agency
By Matt Hallett
When newly appointed Atlanta Dream head coach Nicki Collen took the job she knew there was plenty of work to do on the roster. They were without a first-round pick in the 2018 and had a number of veterans out of contract.
Tamera Young and Sancho Lyttle have signed elsewhere and Bria Holmes is out for the season due to pregnancy. However, this is where the bad news ended for the Dream. They signed Jessica Breland, lured Angel McCoughtry back after a year off and signed Renee Montgomery.
Montgomery has been a crucial piece for the Minnesota Lynx. Her play off the bench has allowed the second unit to thrive. Backing up the feisty Lindsay Whalen at point guard is one of the hardest jobs in the WNBA.
Last season, Whalen injured her hand, putting the spotlight on Montgomery. There were a few shaky moments but all in all, Montgomery ran the team well as a starter. Now that she is playing for Atlanta, Montgomery will be playing alongside Layshia Clarendon, McCoughtry, Brittney Sykes and Tiffany Hayes.
This back-court is now nothing short of stunning. McCoughtry is an MVP caliber player who makes any team better. Clarendon is one of the best pass-first point guards in the league whose assist average should skyrocket this season with all the talent around her.
Hayes is an incredibly talented and efficient shooter while Sykes was second in rookie of the year ratings last season. Adding Montgomery to this mix is going to mean the back-court of the Dream is never going to stop coming at you.
It also means their 3-point shooting is going to improve. Montgomery was a 36 percent shooter from deep last year, making 39 of her 109 shots from range.
Only Hayes had a better shooting percentage from distance last year, going at 38 percent making 48 of 128 attempts.
This is going to improve the spacing for the much improved Dream front-court which is going to feature Elizabeth Williams, Jessica Breland and Imani McGee-Stafford. In fact, McGee Stafford has been working hard on her perimeter shooting in the WNBA off-season as well.
Montgomery also brings a tenacious defense to the Dream. She led the league in defensive rating last season. Add this to the defense of Williams and Breland an the Dream just got harder to score against.
This combination in the second unit may be too much to handle for most teams in the league.
The final benefit Montgomery brings to the Dream is an intangible. Being part of the Minnesota Lynx organisation means you need to learn how to win. It is either that or you get moved on. Montgomery will bring this leadership and knowledge to the Dream, making them a very hard team to beat this season.