Steph Curry is possibly the most exciting player in the NBA right now. His ability to extend terrain to the range of an ICBM can make rock-bound tricksters raise an eyebrow and smile in amazement and amazement. There hasn't been anything like it lately in women's basketball, that is, someone known for scoring exorbitant amounts primarily as a 3-pointer.
Sure, there have been plenty of great shooters in WNBA history, but of the WNBA players with the top 25 career 3-point percentages, only eight: Sandy Brondello, Jackie Stiles (only played two seasons), Eva Nemcova, Allie Quigley, Elena Delle Donne, Sue Bird, Elena Baranova and Kelsey Plum have also averaged more than ten points per game in their careers. Of those eight, only one, Bird, averaged more than four long-range attempts per game during her career.
Enter Caitlin Clark, 6-foot guard from Iowa. Clark is the center of offense for the Hawkeyes. Like Steph Curry, she has the range of an Olympic goalkeeper and also remarkable skills on the ball. In her team's final game against No. 6 Michigan, Clark scored 46 points, shooting 14-for-29 from the field and 6-for-13 from beyond the arc. Forty-six points sounds like a career night, and that was it for Clark. That was the highest score she had ever lost in a college game. However, it was also her third 40-point game this season (1/31 vs. OSU and 1/2 vs. Evansville). It was the seventh time that she had scored at least thirty goals in a match. She is currently averaging 27.4 points per game. That's two points more than the next best DI college basketball player, Delaware's Jasmine Dickey, and more than four points more than anyone else on the men's side of college basketball.
However, what sets Clark apart from other leading scorers is the way she does it. Dickey tries around 2.5-3 seconds per game. Clark tries 8.5. Curry, one of the most prolific 3-point shooters of all time, has had 8.8 attempts per game in his career, though that number likely plateaued in his first three seasons in the league as a role player, during the which averaged less. five attempts per game. As a senior in college, Curry attempted 9.9 3-pointers per game and averaged 28.6 points per game while playing in a non-Power 5 conference. I'd say Clark's recent streak has been more impressive.
He just takes a look at these highlights from his team's last game against No. 6 (now No. 4) Michigan. He steps back, mid-range jump shot, dodges trey, fakes step back with hesi just to get to the rim, lift logo. If I had to describe these highlights to you without context, which highlights would you describe? Curry? James Harden? Paul George? No, a sophomore in Iowa.
Is this level of success sustainable in the WNBA? Maybe not. Kelsey Plum posted the most points per season in NCAAW history (31.7) and averaged 6.45 three-point attempts per game during her college career. Yet in four seasons in the WNBA, she has averaged fewer than four shot attempts per game. However, in 2021, Plum reinvigorated his 3-point shooting as a backup. He set career highs in three-point attempts per game and points per game. At just 27 years old, she still has a few years to develop his game further and really make waves beyond the arc. I hope he does because it's players like Plum who will pave the way for players like Clark.