With the Atlanta Dream’s signings of Aneika Henry and Le’coe Willingham announced today, the Dream have presumably tried to address two areas of need: offensive rebounding and 3-point shooting .
Playing without center Erika de Souza for most of the 2012 season, the Dream were only marginally better than their opponents on the offensive boards after dominating the boards for the previous two seasons that saw them make late-season runs to the WNBA finals.
However, while Henry might stand to improve upon her first year in the league, Willingham appears to be going the opposite direction as noted in the Dream release.
Willingham is a nine-year veteran who has played in 266 games during her career, including 77 starts. The six-foot forward spent the 2012 season with Chicago, averaging 3.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per contest while playing in 33 games.
“Le’Coe brings a championship pedigree to our squad,” said Williams. “Her size, rebounding and ability to shoot the three-pointer is going to help us a great deal. She plays with a lot of energy, and her ability to run the floor will help us generate some offense.”
Willingham’s best seasons came in Phoenix, where she averaged 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 2008, and 10.0 points and 4.2 boards in 2009.
In short, Willingham hasn’t been as good in either Chicago or Seattle as she was in Phoenix and the statistics show just how sharp that decline has been.
Report Created on &amp;amp;lt;a href=”http://www.basketball-reference.com/” mce_href=”http://www.basketball-reference.com/”&amp;amp;gt;Basketball-Reference.com&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;
Most notably for a team like Atlanta that is looking for 3-point shooting – as noted in the quote above and suggested by their 29.6% shooting from beyond the arc in 2012, the lowest percentage in the Eastern Conference – is that Willingham’s 3-point percentage has been much closer to her career average (29.4%) than what she quite surprisingly shot in 2010 with the Storm (45.2%). If you’re looking for a reason for the 20 point drop off in true shooting percentage between 2010 and 2012, that’s a pretty good start.
Still, with Laurie Koehn a free agent, Willingham’s 27.4% 3-point shooting in Chicago last year would make her the third best long range shooting on the team behind Cathrine Kraayeveld (40.2%) and Angel McCoughtry (33.7%). So needless to say, 3-point shooting is still probably an area of need.
For more on the Atlanta Dream’s offseason, check out our offseason storystream.