The Atlanta Dream pulled off a mini-coup when they signed Jessica Breland
By Matt Hallett
The Atlanta Dream have entered the free agency period with a clear goal, to improve their team. Yes, that is the goal of every team but the Dream had players they obviously targeted and they seem to have got them.
They signed Renae Montgomery on the first day and soon after came their next big signing, Jessica Breland who played last season with the Chicago Sky.
Breland did not get as much headline space as her teammates. Stefanie Dolson and Allie Quigley had All-Star seasons. Courtney Vandersloot led the league in assists and Cappie Pondexter is so good she generates her own headlines.
However, Breland is the player who helped hold the team together on the court. She played 24.5 minutes per game, not missing a single game. In this time she averaged 9.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.
These are good numbers. Her 9.5 points per game was good enough for fourth on the team. However, Breland led the Sky with her 6.3 rebound and also with her 1.7 blocks per game.
In fact, her 1.7 blocks per game was good enough for fourth in the entire league last year. The only players above her were Brittney Griner (2.5), Sylvia Fowles (2.0) and Elizabeth Williams (1.9).
Between Breland and Dolson, the Chicago Sky blocked an average of 3.0 shots per game. This is an impressive number for the Sky frontcourt pairing.
However, most people do not realize, Breland has been a great rim protector and defender her entire career. All-time, Breland is blocking shots at a rate of 1.29 per game. This is good enough for 18th in the history of the league.
If she continues to block the way she is, Breland will pass Ruth Riley who averaged 1.3 blocks per game for her career.
The Dream became a nightmare for the opposition
With the signing of Breland, the Dream now have three elite level shot blockers in their frontcourt. Elizabeth Willims is the teams starting center. She finished third in blocks per game last season. She is actually sixth all-time in shots blocked per game.
The starting power forward will be Breland, once again 18th all-time. However, when either one of them sits, the Dream have the luxury of bringing on 6'7" Imani McGee-Stafford who is 28th all-time in blocks per game. She finished 18th in the league last year.
The Dream are also going to be hard to rebound against. Last season Williams was 10th in the league with 7.2 rebounds per game. Breland was 16th in the league and McGee-Stafford was 40th in the league with 3.9 per game.
Add to this, rookie sensation Brittney Sykes who had 4.1 rebounds per game and opposition teams will know they have to shoot well. They will not get many second-chance opportunities.
Add to this, between Williams and Breland, if they keep to last years averages, will give the Dream 4.7 offensive rebounds per game. Together, they will generate almost five extra shot attempts per game.
The Breland signing was a masterstroke. Add to this the backcourt the Dream have put together and this team is now in contention for the title.