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Banged-up Caitlin Clark heads to Seattle for her first game vs. Storm

Percy Allen, The Seattle Times on

Published in Basketball

SEATTLE — Never one to shy away from a hot topic, outspoken WNBA superstar Diana Taurasi caused a bit of a stir last month when she predicted Caitlin Clark would struggle during her first season in the league.

“Reality is coming,” Taurasi told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter when asked about Clark’s future in the WNBA. “There’s levels to this thing. That’s just life. We all went through it. You see it on the NBA side, and you’re going to see it on this side. You look superhuman playing against some 18-year-olds, but you’re going to come play with some grown women that have been playing professional basketball for a long time.

“Not saying it’s not going to translate, because when you’re great at what you do you’re just going to get better, but there is going to be a transition period when you have to give some grace as a rookie. It may take a little bit longer for some people.”

Who would know better what lies ahead for the NCAA Division I all-time scoring leader than the WNBA’s all-time scoring leader?

“The new fans are really sensitive these days,” Taurasi told The Arizona Republic during the Phoenix Mercury’s training camp weeks ago. “You can’t say anything.

“It’s kind of like when you go from kindergarten to first grade, there’s a learning adjustment. When you go from high school to college, there’s a learning adjustment. I don’t think I said anything that wasn’t factually correct. Like anything, greatness is going to translate and (Clark has) proven that at every level. I don’t see it being any different in the WNBA.”

 

After a week and four games into Clark’s rookie season, Taurasi’s blunt warning is proving to be somewhat prophetic.

While leading Iowa to a 34-5 record during her record-breaking 2023-24 senior season, the 6-foot scoring sensation averaged 31.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 8.9 assists while shooting 45.5% from the field and 37.8% on 3-pointers.

Heading into Wednesday’s 7 p.m. matchup against the Storm — her first WNBA game in Seattle — the Indiana Fever’s No. 1 overall draft pick is averaging 17 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists while shooting 41.2% from the floor and 34.3% on 3s.

Those are better than respectable statistics for Clark, who is the favorite to win the WNBA Rookie of the Year award.

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