Fantasy women’s basketball roundtable: What is Caitlin Clark’s fantasy value as a rookie?

All eyes are on Caitlin Clark these days, and for good reason. Not only is she one of the greatest shows in sports; in her last regular-season home game on Sunday, the Iowa star passed the legendary “Pistol Pete” Maravich for the most points scored by a Division I basketball player (men’s or women’s).

Expected by many to be the No. 1 overall selection by the Indiana Fever in the WNBA draft on April 15, the question is what should be expected out of Clark in fantasy women’s basketball this season? And with that, how high should she be picked?

We turned to our fantasy experts Andre Snellings, Eric Moody, Liz Loza and Jennifer LaCroix to to get their thoughts.

What is the best-case scenario for Clark’s fantasy ranking?

Best-case scenario she averages 20+ PPG, 5+ RPG and 5+ APG, this would mean her team automatically is deferring to her as the main go-to player on the team. Basically her team allows her to be the engine that makes them go. This would also be assuming that she has no issues transitioning from college to professional and also that she’s not exhausted from playing an entire college season then going right into another professional season. Do I think this is doable? Yes. Do I think it’s probable? No. — LaCroix

The best-case scenario is that Clark produces numbers similar to Sabrina Ionescu, who led the WNBA in 3-pointers last season while averaging 17.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 5.4 APG in her first season. If Clark came out the gate smoking, at that level, it would make her a borderline top-10 player in fantasy hoops rankings. — Snellings

Play Fantasy WNBA Basketball

Fantasy Women’s Basketball is now open! Create or join a league today to get started.

Sign up for free!

Projecting a rookie’s ability to make an immediate impact at the pro level is always a tricky endeavor. Predicting Clark’s first-year productivity is extra difficult because of her likely landing spot. Clark figures to join 2023 Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston in Indiana, as the Fever retained the first pick in the WNBA for the second consecutive year. Boston closed her rookie campaign as fantasy’s 17th most productive player. While Clark and Boston are in possession of different skill sets, minutes are key in fantasy and each player’s usage remains up in the air. Still, Clark is considered a generational talent, whose potential presence is already affecting ticket sales. She’s going to be on the court. And given the regularity of her dominance, I think she’ll adapt quickly. She has top-10 potential heading into 2024. — Loza

A top-20 finish in the fantasy rankings would be the best-case scenario, and it’s possible when you factor in the high usage rate she should command out of the gate, similar to the two previous No. 1 overall picks, Aliyah Boston and Rhyne Howard. — Moody

What is the worst-case scenario for Clark’s fantasy ranking?

The worst-case scenario likely deals with injury and/or difficulty adjusting to the more physical professional game. But Clark is a perimeter player, and if drafted by the Fever at No. 1 she’d go to an upcoming team with an All-Star guard in Kelsey Mitchell and two strong interior players in Aliyah Boston and NaLyssa Smith. If she didn’t start off the bat, or dealt with injury, she could be in the 40-50 range along with other young, upcoming players like last season’s No. 2 overall pick Diamond Miller (43rd in ESPN rankings). — Snellings

I think worst-case scenario is she barely averages double-figures and struggles shooting efficiently. Like I mentioned early she will have just played an entire college season and going straight into the WNBA season. She will be tired, and she has to face players who have been pros for a long time who are strong, faster and whose basketball IQ is higher than anyone she faced on college. In addition I would assume a lot of these professional players are going to be waiting to give Clark their best shot when they play against her. We also have to account for how she fits with a team, on Iowa she is the go-to player and can basically shoot and do whatever she wants because she is the best player on that team. In the WNBA if she ends up on the Fever with Aliyah Boston and Kelsey Mitchell, that type of mentality is way different and she may have to change her volume shooting mentality slightly. — LaCroix

Clark is a phenom and a legitimate superstar in every sense of the word. She has the potential to become the face of the league as a rookie. It’s hard for me to see her ranked outside the top 25, even if she is somehow drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks at No. 2 overall and has to play alongside Nneka Ogwumike. — Moody

Boston, Miller and Dorka Juhasz were the three rookies who played the most minutes in 2023. Miller, as previously mentioned, made the biggest fantasy impact, averaging 31.5 minutes while recording 1,212 total fantasy points (17th most) last year. Miller and Juhász both averaged around 25 minutes and each finished just outside of the top 40 fantasy producers. Anything less than 30 minutes of usage per game for Clark feels unlikely, but stranger things have happened. There is a world in which she’s ranked outside of the top 30. — Loza

Where would you rank her?

Clark is a record-breaking scorer. Her long-range shooting is awe-inspiring. But she’s also an incredible passer, as Rebecca Lobo noted after Clark made history over the weekend. Each assist is worth a point in ESPN’s fantasy scoring. Given Clark’s overall offensive prowess, it’s going to be hard for me to rank her outside of the top-12. — Loza

Editor’s Picks

2 Related

I would put her at 10. I think she’s going to have a similar to Ionescu in her 2021 campaign (missed almost all of her rookie season with ankle injury). Ionescu averaged 10+ PPG, 5+ RPG and 5+ APG in that 2021 season and was a huge impact player for the Liberty. I think Clark could average better numbers than Ionescu in her first season, but it’s still going to be an adjustment for her. I don’t think she is going to be the league’s leading scorer or league’s leader in any statistical category this season, but I think she could be top 5 in a lot of them because she is so versatile. I also don’t think we can make the assumption that she will be putting up the same numbers she is right now in the college game. Why? Because like I mentioned before it’s a different talent pool, and an example to keep in mind is when Kelsey Plum came to the league, the former D-I all-time record holder. She struggled and only averaged 8.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG and 3.5 APG through her first three seasons in the WNBA. There is an adjustment period for players coming from college and we have to account for that with Clark even though she is a more versatile player than Plum offensively. — LaCroix

I would rank her somewhere between 25 and 30. Behind former MVP Jonquel Jones (25th in ESPN rankings) and in the vicinity of new teammate Smith (30th in the rankings). I expect Clark to earn a starting spot for the Fever and be able to play well off her teammates, with Mitchell setting her up with space to shoot as defenses have to contend with Boston and Smith in the middle. — Snellings

I’d rank Clark around 15. She has averaged 32.2 PPG in her final collegiate season, and the supply of viable guards in WNBA fantasy hoops is limited. The only guards I’d have above her in rankings are Jewell Loyd, Arike Ogunbowale, Ionescu, Chelsea Gray, Howard and Plum. — Moody

Source link

Leave a comment