What can we expect from Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese at the next level? | Top Vip News

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Even before millions of people tuned in to watch Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese, Part II, the matchup was giving off rivalry vibes between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

But there’s a good chance there won’t be many high-intensity matchups between the two at the professional level. Having that kind of rivalry requires longevity, and it’s not so simple in the WNBA, where roster spots are limited and often (but not always) go to well-rounded, pro-ready players picked in the lottery.

Iowa’s Clark, the leading candidate for national player of the year, is all but guaranteed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, which will be held April 15 in New York. Reese, who declared for the draft just days after LSU’s Elite Eight loss to Iowa, has more confusing prospects due to the fact that most of the 36 draft picks are renounced before the first pick of the season.

Reese had 48 hours after that final game to declare for the WNBA Draft or remain in college. She was eligible to stay one more year under the COVID-19 waiver.

ALBANY, NEW YORK - APRIL 1: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes shoots the ball over Angel Reese #10 of the LSU Tigers during the first half of the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on April 1st.  2024 in Albany, New York.  (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, pictured scoring against LSU’s Angel Reese on Monday in an NCAA Tournament regional final, is the heavy favorite to go No. 1 in the WNBA Draft. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark’s Career Outlook

At No. 1 overall, Clark would join a surging Indiana Fever team with the No. 1 overall pick in 2023 and reigning Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston as a pick-and-roll partner. It’s a tantalizing duo that fans are eager to see, but don’t expect Clark to average 30 points per game as a pro.

Last year’s leading scorer was Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, who averaged 24.7 points per game. That was just shy of the all-time average scoring mark of 25.2 points set by Diana Taurasi in 2006. Clark won’t be able to come in and dominate bigger, stronger veteran defenders in a league concentrated with the best players in the world. . His debut would be against the Connecticut Sun, who had the league’s best defense in 2023 behind forward Alyssa Thomas.

Clark’s vision and IQ make her a great prospect. Clark’s assists are an aspect of her game overshadowed all season by her scoring records. Many of her transfers will go to Boston, as they did for center Monika Czinano during three years at Iowa.

It may take time for other teammates to adjust to playing with Clark and his ability to find holes in the defense that no one else thinks about. Stories from Iowa practices focus on how players had to learn to keep their heads up during transition and be ready for a pass at a moment’s notice. Iowa became so good because she had teammates who learned that and stayed with her for three or four years.

Once his Fever teammates get used to Clark’s ways, he could easily rank among the league’s best point guards. Las Vegas Aces star Chelsea Gray (7.3 apg), New York Liberty leader Courtney Vandersloot (8.1) and Phoenix Mercury addition Natasha Cloud (6.2) will compete for the assists crown next season.

Clark has strong defensive moments, but will have to improve on that side of the ball. Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder often hides Clark among the weaker guards, in part to keep her fresh enough to drop 40 when necessary, but WNBA teams can expose that. That defensive advantage was a differentiator between the two-time WNBA champion Aces and the Liberty in the 2023 Finals. Most rookie guards who have had prolific scoring careers in college have to take a defensive leap in their first years at a professional level.

Angel Reese faces questions about his draft position

Reese is an elite rebounder with a nose for the ball and a strong work ethic to get it done. That alone could help her stay on a roster, as could her defense. But he hasn’t developed other parts of her game. Reese is not a strong shooter outside of the paint and certainly not from the perimeter. She was forced to take those shots in this NCAA tournament and she didn’t look comfortable.

That is the biggest question and teams will have to be patient, which is a luxury that few allow themselves in the WNBA. Even if Reese remains on a roster, she won’t dominate like she did in college.

The biggest thing about working against Reese is that there aren’t enough spots in the WNBA and teams don’t have the roster space to develop a young player when they can keep an experienced veteran. Most teams have the minimum of 11 players to stay under the tight salary cap. That’s about 132 roster spots across 12 teams, with 11-12 more spots in 2025 with the Bay Area expansion team.

If a player is not in the lottery, the team that drafts him becomes more important than where he was drafted. It’s common for second- and third-round picks, and even late first-round picks, to be discarded at the roster reduction date because there isn’t enough room.

There is a Clark connection to this. Prior to the 2019 season, the Dallas Wings waived former Iowa forward and Naismith Player of the Year Megan Gustafson as part of their final roster cuts. Gustafson, who was not matched at Iowa with Clark, was the 17th overall pick (fifth in the second round) after leading NCAA Division I in scoring twice and ranking in the top five in rebounding twice.

Wings CEO Greg Bibb said at the time that Gustafon had the talent and skills to play, but the roster couldn’t retain her. He returned later that season on a hardship contract while replacing an injured player, and remains in the league on his fourth team in six years. The Aces signed her after her career-high 7.9 points in 15.1 minutes per game in Phoenix.

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