2024 WNBA Season Preview: Indiana Fever

Although at different stages of their careers, Erica Wheeler and Caitlin Clark are ready for the Fever’s rise. | Image courtesy of the Indiana Fever.

There’s more than the Caitlin Clark Experience to look forward to this season for the Fever.

All eyes will be on the Fever this season because of one highly-popular rookie. But there is way more to talk about when discussing the Hoosier State team.

Caitlin Clark seems to be blending in nicely with the team, with Erica Wheeler serving as her tutor, and the rookie playing what is called “the right way,” impressing primarily with her spacing and passing. So in this season preview we’ll focus on other issues, ones also worthy of discussion when assessing how the Fever stack up against the rest of the WNBA.

What to look forward to with the Fever in 2024

Aliyah Boston is ready to lead

2024 USAB Women’s Practice
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Aliyah Boston, pictured at a recent USA Basketball practice.

Coming off a successful rookie year and spending time with US women’s national basketball team, Aliyah Boston feels more confident about her role on the team and the expectations of the coach. She’s more experienced and mentally tough thanks to playing against and talking to WNBA vets. The media attention amplifies the expectations for this season and Boston will have to carry the team at least until Clark will get comfortable in the W, which will not happen overnight. The fact that, at just 22 years old, she’s ready to do that speaks volumes about her maturity.

Don’t overlook NaLyssa Smith

Galatasaray Cagdas Faktoring v Union Feminine Angers - FIBA Women’s European Cup
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NaLyssa Smith, pictured swatting a shot while playing for Galatasaray.

NaLyssa Smith has dealt with injuries during her first two WNBA seasons, but the Fever showed great belief in her, picking up the fourth-year option on her rookie deal before training camp even began. This year in Turkey, playing for Galatasaray, she was averaging 19.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, immediately becoming the leader on one of the best teams in one of the best European leagues. It was her first year abroad, which shows that she can adapt to different circumstances and just play her game. It’s also good to know that she can produce when called upon, which should make her teammates feel more comfortable during what’s going to be a very stressful season.

Coach Sides against the world

New York Liberty v Indiana Fever
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Christie Sides, exuding intensity from the sideline during the 2023 season.

During her media availability on the first day of training camp, Christie Sides presented an “us against the world” mentality, building up her players, both old and new, while preaching togetherness in the face of opposition. Her calls for unity against all the other teams were directed at her team rather than the members of the media, and that’s fine, because that’s her way of motivating the players. We’ll see how it works as the season progresses and what other methods will she use to bring the Fever players together.

What to be careful about with the Fever in 2024

The media attention may be a distraction

2024 NBA Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers
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Caitlin Clark, tossing shirts to fans at a recent Pacers game.

Indiana Fever are entering uncharted territory, as this sort of media frenzy is usually reserved for big market teams. Now everything they do—or rather fail to do—will be scrutinized by the media. So while the attention might be exciting and serve as a morale booster when properly utilized by Coach Sides, playing 36 regular season games on national television comes with a lot of pressure. Caitlin Clark is no stranger to attention and pressure, but not every player on that roster may be ready for the spotlight.

Kelsey Mitchell still needs time

Minnesota Lynx v Indiana Fever
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Kelsey Mitchell, signing autographs after a 2023 game.

Kelsey Mitchell isn’t yet back to full training due to an ankle injury and she may need some time to get into game rhythm. Asked about the timeline of her return, Sides responded, “Hopefully sooner than later.” Mitchell is with the team, riding the bicycle and shooting the ball, but will probably miss the Saturday game against the Wings. It’s just one preseason game, but if the Fever want to make the playoffs, they will need her in every game. Last season, Mitchell averaged 18.2 points per game and made the All-Star team for the first time in her career. Hopes are she’ll improve those numbers when playing next to Clark.

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