How Caitlin Clark Will Change the Landscape of the WNBA

The all-time leading scorer of both men’s and women’s Division I basketball, Caitlin

Clark is breaking down barriers, and making people reconsider what the future of women’s basketball may look like. Following four years of absolute domination playing for her hometown Iowa Hawkeyes, Clark is heading to Indiana to play for the Fever. 

Similar to how the San Antonio Spurs found themselves in quite an enviable position, owning the 1st overall pick during the ‘Wembanyama draft’, the Indiana Fever also hit the jackpot lottery when they were awarded the WNBA draft’s 1st overall pick, and with it the ability to select Clark. Much like Victor Wembanyama in the NBA, Clark is a similarly unique, once in a generation level player, capable of altering both the franchise and the culture in Indiana.

Now, while Clark’s actual game may share little to no similarities with that of Wembanyama’s, it does share quite a few similarities with that of Steph Curry’s. In most cases, when a player’s game is compared to Steph Curry’s, it’s usually a bit of a stretch at best, and at worst downright wrong. In most cases however, we’re not talking about a player like Caitlin Clark. 

Apologies to all other players who play with quote on quote limitless shooting range, and an air-tight handle, but no one mirrors Curry’s game quite like Clark does. Clark actually has to be guarded as soon as she crosses half court, she actually has nearly every dribble combination and step-back move imaginable, and she combines all this with a joyful unconscious freedom that allows her to keep on firing even if she misses a few—a rarity to be sure. It is the way in which Clark’s on-court abilities completely dwarf that of her peers which gives her an “it” factor similar to Curry. Her confidence in combination with her shooting and dribbling prowess make her a uniquely singular offensive weapon, comparable only to the man responsible for bringing four Championships to Golden State.

While Caitlin Clark’s impact on the Indiana Fever will obviously be most noticeable on the court, don’t let that fool you into thinking that that will be the totality of her impact. Take for example, the record number of viewers (2.45 million) who tuned in just to see Clark get drafted, or the multiple reports that certain teams are having to relocate their games to larger venues when hosting the Indiana Fever due to the “unprecedented demand”. The ‘Caitlin Clark Effect’ is real and it’s measurable and immense. Clark’s impact on the Fever and WNBA as a whole is already showing its validity—and she hasn’t even stepped on the court yet. None of this should be surprising however, as Clark has been setting records both on the court and off for some time now. If we analyze the viewership numbers from Clark’s most recent game, the finale of the Women’s March Madness Tournament—which non-coincidentally set the record for most viewed women’s basketball game of all time at 18.7 million viewers— it’s clear that Clark’s true impact on basketball as a whole has just begun.

If Clark is blessed with good health there’s no limit to the heights she can reach in her rookie year. During her dynamic four year run at Iowa, Clark put up scoring averages of 26.6, 27.0, 27.8, and 31.6, and while those averages may seem like preposterously high marks to expect from the average rookie, Clark is far from the average rookie—even far from the average number one overall pick. It’s well within reason to expect Clark to push for scoring titles and All-Star selections right out of the gates. Aside from high scoring outbursts, and skillful ball wizardry, one thing all basketball fans around the world can hope for from Clark during her rookie campaign, is a rematch of the WNBA vs NBA 3pt shootout during All-Star Weekend. Last year of course featured a matchup between Sabrina Ionescue and Steph Curry, with Curry narrowly escaping with the win. However with Clark potentially joining the fold, and teaming up with Ionescue to square off against Curry and potentially Klay Thompson, all bets are off. Clark

 is truly just that special, a once in a generation athlete, wholly capable of injecting some much needed excitement and energy into NBA All-Star Weekend.

Clark’s rookie campaign will commence on May 15th when the Indiana Fever take on the Connecticut Sun in front of what is sure to be a sold out crowd. After finishing back-to-back seasons towards the bottom of the league, the Indiana Fever will be leaning heavily on Clark and Aliyah Boston—last year’s number one overall pick—to lead them back towards title contention. And if Clark’s previous stops are any sort of measuring indication, one thing is for sure, the world will be watching, more so than ever.

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