Is it the WNBA's time to (not) shine?
Caitlin Clark is a perfect reason for a franchise to not put its best foot forward this season - except Indiana
With the process of 'tanking' in the news for the end of the NBA season, especially with the Dallas Mavericks, it's an interesting though to look forward to the women's season that's headed for its draft this week, and wonder about that same topic for the next WNBA season.
Will a WNBA team tank to get the first pick in the 2024 draft? It would make plenty of sense due to the Caitlin Clark, the Iowa standout who led the nation in scoring twice in the past three seasons and in assists twice as well.
And, she led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA championship game this season.
She's the pick for No. 1 in 2024, with a likely franchise-changing impact for the right team. That team would definitely be Indiana, and the Fever doesn't even have to tank to be in line for the top pick. That's because Indiana has been the terrible for the past half-decade, and not just terrible, but really terrible.
In the past six seasons, the Fever have finished last in the 12-team league five times. They were 11th the one season they weren't last.
In the past six seasons, the team has won nine of fewer games five times, including a 5-31 record in 2022. For the 2023 season, the Fever are +8000 to win the league title, more than twice as much a longshot as the 11th team.
From Iowa to Indiana - that's a fabulous marketing campaign just waiting to happen in Indianapolis if the Fever just play like they've been playing.
If there were a team that would be accused of tanking, it might very well be Los Angeles, which is +4000 along with Atlanta.
Imagine what the WNBA might be thinking as a league if Clark were to wind up in LA instead of Indiana? It might be kind of like when Magic Johnson wound up in Los Angeles instead of New Orleans in 1980.
Tank away Los Angeles - hardcore WNBA fans might actually be rooting for that.
One big element in regards to selecting Clark first in 2024 is her decision to join the league. Will she actually turn pro after next season?
Currently, players have to be 22 or graduating in order to be drafted, and Clark is 21 and a junior. But, she has her Covid-19 season eligibility left, so she technically has the potential for two more college seasons. And, those are big money.
Clark has image licensing deals with several companies that are worth somewhere near $1 million per season, at least that's the info from numerous searches on the topic. Her salary in the WNBA would be $72,000 as a rookie.
Now then, she would very likely have numerous image deals in the pro ranks as well, especially in Los Angeles. But, travel is better for college players than WNBA players. And, attendance is as well. The attendance issue might cancel out due to Clark's image and ability as a pro, but the NCAA is much more of a professional organization than the WNBA despite all the college players.
There's a topic for some WNBA fans.
Cliff is a lifelong resident of Oregon and has four decades of experience as a writer, photographer, videographer, broadcaster and now producer. He's a grad of Benson and the University of Oregon, and publishes Oregonsports.com as well as OSPN, which is scheduled for delivery as a streaming Mobile App in December.