The secret behind a historic Atlanta Dream defense isn’t so secret

The Atlanta Dream defense is making WNBA history since 2015, and the common denominator is none other than former WNBA guard Tanisha Wright. 

Wherever Tanisha Wright goes, historic defenses seem to follow.

That’s not just because Wright helped Seattle Storm win their second WNBA Championship in 2010, or because Wright developed the Las Vegas Aces into having one of the league’s best defenses in 2020 as their defensive specialist.

It’s because the 14-year WNBA veteran, who has been in coaching roles since 2017, has now both played and coached historic defensive units.

Atlanta Dream reporter Spencer Nusbaum drew the line between the 2022 Atlanta Dream and the 2015 New York Liberty. Since that Liberty squad, no WNBA team has limited opposing offenses to fewer than 90 points per 100 possessions.

Wright played for Liberty that season, and she took over as head coach in Atlanta in October 2021. It’s no secret that the secret ingredient here is Tanisha Wright.

Tanisha Wright is the key to the Atlanta Dream defensive turnaround

Calvin Wetzel of Just Women’s Sports detailed how the Dream turnaround this season is a “full 180” compared to seasons past.

“After three straight seasons of porous defense, this year’s Dream squad has done a full 180 in that department, holding opponents to an effective 42.3 field goal percentage. That mark would be fifth best in league history, and the last team to achieve it over a full season was the 2002 Houston Comets.”

On offense, the Dream team is using teamwork to make the dream work, scoring a season-high 20 assists in their 81-54 thrashing of the Phoenix Mercury on May 29.

Another beautiful moment from that game is when when guard Aari McDonald, who passed for that assist, scored two in the Dream’s “Moment of the Game.”

McDonald’s assist is reminiscent of what Wright did on the court with the Liberty, lobbing a sweet assist to Carolyn Swords for a layup back in 2016.

Like women’s basketball legend Dawn Staley has been able to do in South Carolina, cultivating talents like A’ja Wilson and Aliyah Boston, it seems that Wright is already doing it for the Dream in her first month as head coach.

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