Head Coach Nicki Collen had a plan in the offseason and it included signing one of the top free agent forwards available and bringing them to Atlanta. She traveled to North Carolina multiple times and eventually received a commitment from Jessica Breland. The 6-3 forward, who had suited up for Chicago the last four seasons, was going to help the Atlanta Dream spread the floor, play better defense and become a Playoff caliber team and she did just that.
Breland consistently made an impact for the Dream throughout the season, starting all 34 regular season games for the Dream. She grabbed rebounds when the team needed them, blocked shots consistently and found her rhythm with her 18-foot jump shot. She set career highs with 1.9 blocks and 7.9 rebounds per game and reached 1,500 points in her career during the 2018 season.
She was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the first time in her career on July 16 after finishing a masterful week, which included a pair of double-doubles against the Washington Mystics and a 10-point, 8-rebound effort against Indiana. Her 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks against Washington on July 11 was one of the best performances by any Dream player in 2018.
The WNBA also recognized Breland for her work on the defensive side of the ball and leading the Dream to the No. 2 seed in the Playoffs. She was named WNBA All-Defensive First Team for her work.
Some may have been surprised by Breland’s performance in 2018 but not Collen, who knew what kind of presence she would bring to the Dream roster.
Final 2018 Stats
WNBA All-Defensive First Team
Eastern Conference Player of the Week (July 16)