Ex-Lakers star says recent Caitlin Clark drama is ‘good for the WNBA’

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read

In the eyes of former Los Angeles Lakers star guard Nick Van Exel, the recent drama surrounding Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark is beneficial for the WNBA.

Clark was recently involved in a heated exchange with Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter that has made headlines around the basketball world.

Van Exel compared Clark’s confrontation with Carter in Saturday’s game between the Fever and Sky — which resulted in Carter retroactively receiving a flagrant foul — to an incident in which he was pushed by Seattle Supersonics defensive ace Gary Payton when the now 52-year-old was in his rookie year.

Clark helped lead the Fever to just their second win of the 2024 season on Saturday. She didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, knocking down just four of her 11 shots from the field, including two of her nine 3-point attempts.

However, as credit to the first-year pro, she made an impact on the game in other ways outside of simply putting the ball through the net. She dished out a team-high six assists while also pulling down eight rebounds in the Fever’s one-point victory.

With the win, Clark’s Fever improved their record to 2-8 on the season, which is the second-worst in the Eastern Conference and the entire league, ahead of only the Washington Mystics, who have played eight games since the start of the campaign and have yet to win a single one of them.

Indiana’s first win of the season prior to its narrow victory over the Sky came against the Los Angeles Sparks back on May 24, when Clark nearly totaled a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists despite 4-of-14 shooting from the field and 2-of-9 shooting from deep.

In 10 games played with the Fever thus far in her first WNBA season, Clark — who was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft — is averaging 16.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per contest. Her efficiency and turnover trends will need to improve, but she is leading Indiana in both points and assists per game.

Van Exel makes a valid point in that Clark getting into some tense moments should only work to draw more eyes to herself, the Fever and thus the WNBA as a whole.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.