by Sherron Shabazz / @SherronShabazz
Among the many intriguing WNBA storylines this season, one story has gone under the radar: The Atlanta Dream have the best record in the WNBA (10-2) and are undefeated at home (7-0).
Atlanta’ success starts with forward Angel McCoughtry, who who was suspended two games last season for violating team rules. Now McCoughtry has a new attitude.
McCoughtry’s pouting has been replaced with fist pumps. This renewed trust in her teammates is contagious and makes for better basketball.
“I think we have a great chemistry,” McCoughtry told SLAMonline. “We’ve been through a lot, especially last year. It made us a lot stronger.”
McCoughtry consistently leads the WNBA in steal per game (3.7) and this season she has company. Armintie Herrington (3.1) is third overall in the league in steals per game while Tiffany Hayes (1.4) is tenth. Prior to taking off for Europe to play for Spain’s national team Sancho Lyttle also joined in on the thievery with 2.8 steals per contest. As a team the Dream force a league-high 12.7 steals per game.
McCoughtry took it upon herself to add new dimensions to her game for the 2013 season, and great defense has become the Dream’s calling card. The team is also fourth in scoring behind the All-Star-infested Mercury, Sparks and Lynx. Atlanta is also third in the WNBA in assists (17.7) and field-goal percentage (45 percent).
Meanwhile, McCoughtry is the second in scoring (20.2 ppg) and has earned a rep as the ultimate go-to player. Last year’s scoring champion has seen increases in her rebounding numbers but more notably, her assists per game have jumped from 2.9 to 5.
Granted, Atlanta hasn’t met the likes of Phoenix or Los Angeles yet, but the Dream stand atop the league with an inspired McCoughtry leading the way.
“Trust me and believe, Angel is coming back strong too,” McCoughtry said after helping Fenerbahce win the Turkish League title this past winter. “Trust me and believe. It’s coming. Real soon. I will win a WNBA championship. Mentally, after this experience, I’m stronger than ever. And physically, I’m 26-years-old, hitting my prime, and I am ready to go. Trust me and believe. It’s coming.“
She warned us—we should have listened.