On Saturday night, Naz Hillmon made her WNBA debut for the Atlanta Dream.
Against the Dallas Wings, Hillmon came off of the bench for the first time since her freshman year at Michigan.
While her rebound and assist in 11 minutes of play is a far cry from the typical numbers Hillmon posted during her senior year as a Wolverine, averaging 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds in 33.5 minutes per game, they still show promise of a bright future for Hillmon in the WNBA.
Projected by many to be picked in the first round, Hillmon fell to the Dream as the third pick in the second round, making her the 15th overall pick. The late selection has dubbed her as the “steal of the draft” by many around the association and in the Dream organization, who are excited for Hillmon’s future in Atlanta.
The Dream saw significant turnover in their organization this past offseason both at the player and managerial level. The team only retained four players from last year’s roster and replaced its head coach and general manager.
Hillmon and fellow rookie No. 1-overall pick Rhyne Howard outline the future for the Dream. The pair will try to dig Atlanta out of the 8-24 finish it had last season — the second-worst record in the league.
Atlanta has failed to make the playoffs in the last three seasons, but the future looks bright for the Dream. The rookie duo of Hillmon and Howard helped their team to a season-opening win against Dallas, 66-59.
Transitioning to the professional level’s faster-paced, stronger version of the game is an adjustment for most players, and Hillmon is no exception. While there will be an adjustment period, Hillmon’s emphasis on learning and developing throughout her collegiate career will remain with her as she begins her professional career.
“We are OK with the fact that she may need to change some things from college in order to be successful in the pros,” Dream general manager Dan Padover told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re going to be patient when some other teams might not be.”
Hillmon’s 6-foot-2 frame is slightly undersized for a WNBA frontcourt position, but her athleticism and relentless motor that made her an elite scoring threat in college will help her interior presence for Atlanta in the future.
Wednesday night when the Dream hosts the Los Angeles Sparks, look for Hillmon to build on her promising start to her WNBA career.