The Atlanta Dream selected Kentucky star Rhyne Howard with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA draft on Monday.
The moment <a href="https://twitter.com/howard_rhyne?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Howard_Rhyne</a> heard her name called as the #1 pick in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WNBADraft?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WNBADraft</a> presented by <a href="https://twitter.com/StateFarm?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@statefarm</a> <a href="https://t.co/99Y8dA25sv">pic.twitter.com/99Y8dA25sv</a>
With the first pick of the 2022 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WNBADraft?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WNBADraft</a>, the <a href="https://twitter.com/AtlantaDream?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AtlantaDream</a> select <a href="https://twitter.com/KentuckyWBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KentuckyWBB</a>'s Rhyne Howard 👏 <a href="https://t.co/ns6nKWg1tU">pic.twitter.com/ns6nKWg1tU</a>
She's the first Kentucky player selected first overall in the WNBA draft.
First-year general manager Dan Padover made his most aggressive move of the offseason when Atlanta jumped to the top of the draft, leaping ahead of the Indiana Fever.
Howard and Baylor's NaLyssa Smith have been widely viewed as the top two players in the 2022 draft class. Once the Dream occupied the No. 1 spot, Howard became the firm consensus favorite to be the first name off the board.
Maria Martin @Ria_Martin
Here’s the inside look of the <a href="https://twitter.com/AtlantaDream?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AtlantaDream</a> War Room. #1 overall and they select Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard. Dream GM Dan Padover announcing the pick over the phone. A really cool moment for this franchise. They knew who they wanted at 1. They got her! Welcome to the A Rhyne. <a href="https://t.co/DoQ3RBx3Uq">pic.twitter.com/DoQ3RBx3Uq</a>
Chennedy Carter had a bright start to her WNBA career, averaging 16.1 points and 3.4 assists through 27 games. Carter is now a member of the Los Angeles Sparks, however, following a 2021 season that saw her get suspended by the Dream for conduct detrimental to the team.
Courtney Williams, a 2021 All-Star who led the team with 16.5 points per game, returned to the Connecticut Sun this offseason as well.
That left Atlanta in need of a young scorer to lead the offense in 2022 and beyond.
Howard averaged 20.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a senior for the Wildcats. She shot 44.1 percent from the field and displayed good range (38.3 percent on threes). Per Her Hoop Stats, she averaged 1.12 points per scoring attempt and ranked 10th in Division I in offensive win shares (8.5).
The 6'2" guard will be a good fit alongside Aari McDonald.
For the Dream, languishing in mediocrity would've been better than what they endured following a 23-win season in 2018. Atlanta combined to win 23 games between 2019 and 2021 and had to deal with a seemingly never-ending series of off-court strife.
Poaching Padover, a two-time WNBA executive of the year, was a tone-setter, though.
A rebuild won't happen overnight. The Dream have four players under contract beyond this coming year, illustrating how the organization is in a transitional period. Padover will have a ton of salary-cap space in 2023 with which to make immediate upgrades to the roster.
Selecting Howard is the first step in Atlanta's quest for a first-ever WNBA title.