Caitlin Clark Struggles in WNBA Debut

When Victor Wembanyama played in his first NBA game he scored 15 points and had five turnovers. In that first month of his professional career, he also had an 8-point game, and one game with as many as seven turnovers.

By the end of the year, he was averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds, and was the runaway NBA Rookie of the Year.

Caitlin Clark began her professional career on Tuesday night with the Indiana Fever, going against a very good Connecticut Sun team, and she also struggled in her debut. In the 92-71 loss, Clark scored a respectable 20 points, just short of her 21.5 over/under on points. But she was just 5-for-15 from the floor, 4-for-11 on 3-pointers, and she finished the night with 10 turnovers.

Only once during her final season at Iowa did she have as many as 10 turnovers, and the 20 points scored would have been her lowest total of the year in her college season.

“There’s a lot to learn from. It’s the first one,” Clark said to reporters after the game. “There’s going to be good ones, there’s going to be bad ones. Obviously, too many turnovers – that’s not going to get the job done. There’s a lot of things to learn from.”

“Connecticut came in and they punched us in the mouth tonight,” said Fever head coach Christie Side. “That’s who they are. Connecticut Sun is a very good team.”

Futures Bets on Clark

If you bought into the hype and laid money down on Clark to win WNBA Rookie of the Year, don’t fret. Her odds remain -750 to win the award, which is exactly where they were before her Tuesday night dose of “reality,” as Diana Taurasi warned.

Her 20 points were a quiet 20 points, but it does rank second in franchise history for a Fever debut. Over the last decade among No. 1 overall picks, the 20 points also ranks second. Only Breanna Stewart in 2016 scored more, with 23 points. And Stewart has gone on to be a two-time MVP.

Stewart also had her struggles, finishing her second professional game with 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting. She was then 5-for-19 in her third game.

Two-time MVP A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces began her career with 14 points on 3-for-13 shooting. When 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones began her career in 2016, she averaged just 6.8 points per game.

Up Next for Clark and Indiana

Clark’s passing is one of her big strengths, and she was just a little off with her teammates all night, which led to the high turnover rate. The team has only been together for three weeks and what amounts to 12 practices, so that should get better over time. 

The schedule, however, does not get better. Up next is a home-and-home with the New York Liberty, starting Thursday in Indiana and concluding Saturday in New York. The Liberty won the Eastern Conference last year with a 32-8 record, and they won their season-opener on Tuesday, 85-80.

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