Indiana Fever Caitlin Clark (22) poses for a photo Wednesday, May 1, 2024, during the Indiana Fever media day at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The hype and anticipation heading into the WNBA regular season has never been higher. But fans don’t have to wait any longer. The league tips off tonight with a 48-hour basketball bonanza, and a schedule full of intriguing matchups and must-see games to keep us entertained throughout the entire summer. 

Much of the hype surrounding this season is centered on Caitlin Clark, and with good reason. Clark captivated basketball fans old and new with her logo 3s, on-the-money dimes, Jordan-esque shrugs, and competitive spirit. She has helped usher in a new era of women’s basketball fandom and interest, lifting the sport to unseen heights. And it has already impacted the WNBA in a variety of positive ways.  

Clark’s debut game tonight against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT,  sold out for the first time in decades, indicating that wherever she travels, attendance will be high. Preseason adjustments have also had to be made to accommodate the influx of fans and attention — from WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert recently announcing a charter flight program, to be “phased in” this season,  to Indiana Fever road opponents having to move games to larger venues.

While the Caitlin Clark effect is indeed real, so are the Caitlin Clark expectations. Fans who watched Clark succeed at the college level, scoring 30-plus points per game while lighting the hoop on fire, not only expect her to do the same in the WNBA, but also have crowned her one of the best players in the league before she even steps foot on the court. 

I love Clark’s game. Her passing ability and shooting ability is a deadly combination. She has the height, court vision and competitive edge to be impactful right from the start. But going from the college game to the pros isn’t an easy transition, not even for college superstars. I’m not saying Clark isn’t going to do well. But I think it’s best to temper expectations. There’s a reason why Candace Parker is the only player in WNBA history to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. 

It’s nearly impossible to do. 

That’s not to say Clark won’t have a shot at MVP. Anything is possible. But it’s hard to imagine when A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart and Alyssa Thomas are still performing at the top of their games. On-ball defense, especially at guard, in the WNBA also hits different than college. There’s more physicality, strength and athleticism to contend with. Clark might have more difficulty getting up shots than she’s been accustomed to.

As one WNBA analyst put it, “Rookie of the Year is more realistic. Can’t give the nod over Wilson and the proven dominance she has consistently shown on the court.”

So, before placing those MVP bets, let’s take a realistic look at what Clark will be able to accomplish in her rookie campaign.

Court Vision

Clark has already shown how she can time passes perfectly, get teammates the ball in transition, and hit post players in the paint exactly where they need the ball. The league is full of talented players who love dishing out dimes — Courtney  Vandersloot, Chelsea Gray, Alyssa Thomas, Courtney Williams and more. But with Aliyah Boston and NaLyssa Smith, Clark’s assist total should be right up there with the best of them. She averaged nearly nine assists at Iowa as a senior. I think she’ll finish in at least the Top 10 for assists, at best the Top 5.


Yes, we will see our fair share of mesmerizing Clark 3s, whether from the logo or otherwise. But I don’t think we’ll be seeing them with as much frequency (see the defensive reference above). At Iowa, Clark was the go-to player and scorer. The offense ran through her. With the Fever, scoring options abound, especially in the frontcourt. And there’s only one ball to go around. I expect Clark to hover around 15-20 points per game.

Rookie of the Year

Clark is the frontrunner but it’s not a foregone conclusion. Angel Reese, Cameron Brink, Alissa Pili, Rickea Jackson, Kamilla Cardoso and Alaiyah Edwards all have a decent shot (though I think Reese is the biggest competition). That being said, I think when all is said and done, Clark will have the edge.


Individual awards and accomplishments aside, making the playoffs is probably Clark’s biggest goal at the moment. She has shown she cares more about winning and taking her team to the next level than she does about her own accolades. The Fever haven’t made the playoffs since 2016. And that’s something I believe Clark can definitely change. With Boston and Clark in the fold, this is the year Indiana gets back into the postseason. 

No matter how Clark’s rookie season unfolds, one thing is for certain — it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. 

You can bet on that.

About Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is a seasoned sports writer, author and women’s sports advocate. She previously wrote about women’s basketball for The Athletic and is the co-author of Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League.