The Caitlin Clark Phenomenon Puts a New Face on the WNBA

The Caitlin Clark Phenomenon Puts a New Face on the WNBA

The Caitlin Clark Phenomenon Puts a New Face on the WNBA

Caitlin Clark is known for her exceptional scoring ability, court vision, and overall playmaking skills.  As she comes off her first WNBA pre-season game, losing to the Dallas Wings, it is important to know there is a period all WNBA rookies need to go through. They are coming off a grueling college season and entering an entirely new system, with new coaches, teammates, terminology, and plays. And they only have five official days of practice to get it down before they are on the court.

So many things are different when a player transitions from college to the pros: the pace is faster, the shot clock is shorter, players are more physical, and referees give more leeway for the game to go on.

“The biggest transition is just the physicality,” Clark said. “Everybody gets physical and sometimes it does not get called. I would say that is the biggest thing I think 1-5, or every single person that we play is so, so talented. The talent level is obviously very different than it is in college, so getting used to that — no matter who steps into the game, you can never really relax, because that’s how competitive the league is.”

Her missed shot at the buzzer against the Wings does not take anything away from Clark’s professional debut, either. She led the Fever in scoring in her inaugural WNBA game, dropping twenty-one points. Both her twenty-one points and five threes made are a Fever record for a debuting rookie. 

It can be a “burden being asked to be the face of the league as a rookie,” but as analyst Steve Serby explained, “Clark has handled the trappings of fame with a poise and a grace and a maturity that belies her 22 years every step of the way. She has opened the door to charter flights for all teams, for more national television exposure, to playing in sold-out bigger arenas, and eventually to rising salaries. If anyone can “start to slam the door on pay equality, it is her.”  

One thing is for sure, the entire country and the world is watching the “Caitlin Effect” and feeling the excitement around the WNBA and its future for the first time in years.  Her commercial appeal and electric style of play have helped the WNBA receive the attention and recognition it deserves. Caitlin Clark is poised to make a lasting impact on the league, much like Michael Jordan did for the NBA.

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