The Los Angeles Sparks continued their busy offseason Thursday. This time, they agreed to sign-and-trade Jordin Canada and the No. 12 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft to the Atlanta Dream for Aari McDonald and the No. 8 overall pick.
“Aari is an exciting addition to the Sparks. I look forward to working with her and have been a fan since her collegiate days,” Sparks coach Curt Miller stated in a press release. “Over her WNBA career she has shown herself to be one of the fastest guards in the league and will help us establish our tempo on a nightly basis.”
“Canada’s defensive prowess is a trait I’ve admired from a distance since she entered the league. You simply can’t teach the level of skill she brings to her position,” Dream coach Tanisha Wright said. “I’m excited to work with her and integrate her unique strengths into our system.”
With the deal now official, let’s grade it for both teams.
- Jordin Canada
- No. 12 overall pick (via Las Vegas Aces)
Ever since Wright took over as Atlanta’s head coach in 2022, the point guard position has been a revolving door. That will change with Canada’s arrival. Canada is coming off a breakout campaign in which she finished as the runner-up for Most Improved Player and established herself as a top-tier point guard.
Canada’s 13.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game for the Sparks last season were all career-highs, as was her 33.3% mark from downtown. While she didn’t quite capture the MIP trophy, she did lead the league in steals and was named to the All-Defensive First Team.
Perimeter defense has always been Canada’s calling card, and as such she’ll be a perfect fit for how Wright wants to play. The Dream have been a top-half defensive team in each of the last two seasons, and should climb even higher with Canada leading the way at the point of attack.
Canada’s improved offensive game, in particular her playmaking, will also be a big boost for a Dream team that too often relied on one-on-one creation last season. The Dream were 10th in the league in assist percentage (63.2) and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.28). Their inability to regularly create easy shots is a big reason why they finished with a 99.7 offensive rating that also ranked ninth.
While Canada showed improvement from 3-point land in 2023, that was the first time she’d ever shot over 21.4% in her career, and it is the one area of concern with this move. The Dream were 12th in 3-point attempts per game (19.2) and ninth in 3-point percentage (33.6) last season, and if Canada regresses they will have some real spacing concerns. Still, she is a major upgrade at point guard and this is a great trade for the Dream.
- Aari McDonald
- No. 8 overall pick
The Sparks’ decision to use the core designation on Canada earlier this offseason raised some eyebrows, and it soon became clear they did so to ensure they didn’t lose her for nothing. Now, they’ve sent her to the Dream for McDonald and the No. 8 overall pick.
Canada’s departure is another big blow for a Sparks team that has already seen Nneka Ogwumikethis winter, and they were always going to be in a tough spot with a sign-and-trade due to their lack of leverage. All told, though, they’ve done pretty well considering the circumstances.
With Canada and Ogwumike out the door, the Sparks are pivoting into a rebuild. Theyfrom the Storm earlier this week and have now added another top-10 pick in what is expected to be an all-time draft class. The Sparks now have picks No. 2, 4 and 8 in April.
Plus, McDonald is just a few years removed from being a lottery pick and has shown some flashes on both ends of the floor in her short time in the league. A change of scenery could perhaps help her to follow in Canada’s footsteps as a breakout player. At the very least, her tenacity on defense will endear her to Miller.
The Sparks may have sent away the best player in this trade, but she was leaving anyway. Even if McDonald doesn’t stick around in L.A. long term, moving up four spots in a talented draft class is solid business.