Anthony Davis relates to Caitlin Clark by recalling players beefing with him when he entered NBA

Peter Dewey
5 Min Read
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis drew some similarities from when he came into the NBA to Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark entering the WNBA this season.

Clark, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 draft, has dealt with high expectations – and some pushback from players – in her first professional season.

Davis, who was also a No. 1 pick (in the 2012 NBA Draft), shared his experience of entering the NBA as a highly touted player.

“It was kind of the same thing,” Davis said when asked to compare being in college to entering the NBA. “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. 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.”

Davis spoke about how this is a job and livelihood for many people, so naturally there is going to be some pushback when players realize that a new player could be taking their spot.

“Naturally, they already have some type of beef with you,” Davis said. “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.”

Clark entered the WNBA with a ton of hype because of her amazing college career at the University of Iowa.

Across four seasons with the Hawkeyes, Clark became the NCAA Division I all-time leading scorer across men’s and women’s basketball. She averaged 28.4 points per game during her career, including 31.6 points per game during her senior campaign.

While Clark hasn’t been as dominant in the WNBA so far, she is facing some tougher competition that Davis only believes will help her get better.

“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.”

This season, Clark is averaging 16.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 37.3 percent from the field and 33.0 percent from beyond the arc. She hasn’t been efficient as she’d like, but the Fever guard has turned in some strong performances through her first 13 games.

In a win over the Washington Mystics on June 7, Clark scored 30 points and went 7-of-13 from beyond the arc for the Fever.

Her season has been filled with ups and downs, including a shove from Chicago Sky player Chennedy Carter that ended up creating a huge conversation around how players are treating the No. 1 pick at the pro level.

Clark has seemingly handled things well in her first WNBA season – as Davis mentioned – and she’ll hopefully be able to grow and improve as a player even though her welcome to the WNBA hasn’t been all that positive.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.