Lakers All-Star Sympathizes with Top WNBA Rookie Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

Clark has been at the center of a media frenzy this season.
Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) yells to the referee Thursday, June 13, 2024, during the game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Indiana Fever defeated the Atlanta Dream, 91-84.
Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) yells to the referee Thursday, June 13, 2024, during the game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Indiana Fever defeated the Atlanta Dream, 91-84. / Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY

Indiana Fever rookie point guard Caitlin Clark, the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, has grappled with a lot of scrutiny from media pundits. Her transition to the pros from college superstardom with the Iowa Hawkeyes has been a bit uneven, but these things often take time, especially for guards. The 6-foot 22-year-old is averaging 15.6 points on underwhelming shooting splits of .367/.322/.897, six assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks a night. She's also leading the league in turnovers with 5.5 per, has been a defensive black hole for a struggling 4-10 Fever team, and has had trouble at times playing through contact. Clark may not quite be ready for All-Star status just yet in a league full of seasoned pros (though she may get voted onto the team anyway, as she's by far the league's most popular player), but the upside is vey much there.

All-Star Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis recently told "Join The Lobby" podcast hosts FaZe Clan's Swagg and Matcrackz that he could sympathize with Clark's plight. Davis, too, was the No. 1 draft pick following a high-stakes college career, though he was a one-and-done superstar at Kentucky in 2011-12 (he won an NCAA championship during his lone pro season, nevertheless).

“It was kind of the same thing,” Davis said of his rookie season. “Obviously, social media wasn’t that big 12 years ago as well. So, I think, when I came in, it was a little bit similar, just on a smaller scale."

“I wasn’t – she is literally – people are trying to make her the face of an entire league as a rookie and putting pressure on her to do so," Davis noted. "And I know – it’s not in my DNA – but I know when I came into the league, it was guys when I got drafted as a power forward, it was guys who were on the team, who had the same position, who took offense to that. So, you coming in like, ‘You 'bout to take my spot.’ Especially coming in as the No. 1 pick, you know he’s starting.”

Following an injury-riddle run with the New Orleans Pelicans, Davis was not, in fact, the Rookie of the Year that season, though he did wind up eventually being probably the best player from among his draft class. Damian Lillard, then the Portland Trail Blazers' No. 7 pick out of Weber State and now probably the second-best player from that group, earned Rookie of the Year honors. This season in the WNBA, Angel Reese, Rickea Jackson, and Cameron Brink are all gunning for the Rookie of the Year accolade, too, though Clark's Stephen Curry-esque ceiling is still higher.

“Naturally, they already have some type of beef with you,” Davis said of attendant vets. “And they don’t even know you. It has nothing to do with you. But, it has everything to do with you. So, I think that’s what she’s going through right now, but she’ll be fine. It’s competitive. It’s a league where you’re supposed to compete. I think everybody is kind of – they bent out of shape about it – but I feel like it’s the competitive nature of the sport.”

“At the end of the day, she’ll look back on this and – everybody will – it actually made her a better player, made her tougher,” Davis said. “But like I said in the beginning, I think she’s handling everything that is going on right now.”

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Alex Kirschenbaum

ALEX KIRSCHENBAUM

Basketball is Alex's favorite sport, he likes the way they dribble up and down the court.