Caitlin Clark’s transition from Iowa women’s basketball superstar to WNBA rookie is being closely scrutinized by fans and analysts alike. As the No. 1 overall draft pick, Clark has faced immense pressure to deliver immediate results for the Indiana Fever. However, early into her WNBA career, it’s evident that even a player of her caliber needs time to adjust to the professional game.

“She's going to be a really good player, I know that much,” New York Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said Saturday after her team’s 91-80 win vs. the Fever, per Alexa Philippou of ESPN. “It's hard coming in as a No. 1 (pick). … Kelsey Plum, it took her an adjustment, look what she's doing now. Sabrina (Ionescu), look at the adjustment that she made.”

Clark’s early performances have been a mixed bag. There have been glimpses of her scoring brilliance, including a standout 22-point game against the Liberty, however, she has also struggled with turnovers and adapting to the physicality of the WNBA. Through her first three games, she has averaged 17 points on 40.0% shooting but also committed 21 turnovers, a league record for a player’s first three games. The Fever, as a team, have started the season 0-3, highlighting the challenges of integrating a young roster.

“When I'm looking at all these things that people are talking about with Caitlin Clark, it's like guys, chill out. She's going to be fine,” Sun coach Stephanie White said Friday. “It's two games in. Are you kidding me?”

Clark's arrival in the WNBA has been met with unprecedented fanfare. Nearly 44,000 fans across three different cities have attended her games, and her season opener was the most-watched WNBA game since 2001, drawing 2.1 million viewers. The excitement surrounding her transition from NCAA Division I scoring leader to professional basketball player has been palpable, but it has also come with heightened expectations.

Clark herself has acknowledged the need for patience.

“I know the outside world thinks I'm going to do some amazing things, but that might take some time,” she said before her first regular-season game. Her teammates and coaches have echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the adjustment period necessary for any rookie entering the league.

“This is the professional league,” Fever teammate Kelsey Mitchell said. “I don't know what people expect or what they're looking for. But (coming together as a team) is going to take a little time.”

Caitlin Clark and Fever have tough start to season

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) falls to the floor after a blocked shot by guard Rachel Banham (1) (not pictured) in the second quarter.
© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Fever’s tough start to the season has been compounded by a brutal schedule. Their losses include a 102-66 defeat to the Liberty, and Saturday’s defeat, and have exposed areas needing improvement, particularly on defense. Indiana allowed 12 first-half three-pointers from New York and struggled with transition defense, conceding 30 points on fast breaks. Despite these challenges, the team showed some moments of skill, battling back from a 23-point deficit to make the final score 91-80.

Clark’s journey is further complicated by the demands of professional basketball, which include extensive travel, media obligations and a packed schedule. She had little time to rest between the NCAA championship April 7 and the WNBA Draft April 15, with training getting underway nearly immediately following the draft.

The Fever are also in the midst of playing seven games in 12 days, limiting practice time and making it difficult to address issues on the court. Coach Christie Sides has repeatedly stressed the importance of patience and process, both for Clark and the team.

“We're striving to be what Minnesota and what Las Vegas is … and it took them time,” Sides said. “So now with the eyes on us, the pressure is different, but still, you can't skip steps.”

Despite the early struggles, Clark remains optimistic about her WNBA future.

“It's been fun, honestly, like, this is what you signed up for,” she said.

The Fever face the Sun Monday.