‘Hope A’ja Takes This Personal’: Indiana Fever Ranked Third-Worst In WNBA, But Fans Are Picking CC To Win MVP By A Landslide

The Caitlin Clark Era officially kicks off on Tuesday night as the Indiana Fever meet the Connecticut Sun on ESPN2 to launch the WNBA’s 28th season.

Expect the game to break some ratings records for WNBA as Clark’s debut is one of the most anticipated in recent memory in men’s or women’s sports.

Various fan polls have Cailtin Clark leapfrogging Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson in the MVP voting and becoming the first rookie since Candace Parker to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. (Getty Images)

While Clark already has the affections of the fans and corporate, she still has a ways to go before she earns the respect of the WNBA gatekeepers and current superstars. 

The preferential treatment she’s received, from traveling with bodyguards to making sure her team was first in line to take advantage of the new charter flight policy, hasn’t gained her many admirers within the league. 

Fans Polls Have Clark Pulling A Candace Parker

But various fan polls have Clark leapfrogging Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson in the MVP voting and becoming the first rookie since Candace Parker to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. CP also holds the record for most points in a WNBA debut on May 17, ’08 with 34.

In one particular poll posted by media personality Kelsey Nicole Nelson, Clark received 55 percent of the vote in the preseason MVP projection poll. Nelson wasn’t happy about the poll and felt it disrespected Wilson.

“I Hope A’ja Takes This Personally And Uses It As Fuel”

A’ja Wilson, fresh off her newly announced shoe deal with Nike, received 23 percent of the vote. Breanna Stewart of the Liberty, who won MVP in 2018 and 2023, received 17 percent of the vote, while 4 percent went to others. 

This list is sure to tick off fans of WNBA players not named Caitlin Clark. It is, however, a harsh reality that the current stars are going to have to deal with. It took them an entire career to build up the respect and celebrity to be able to consider themselves an all-time great and one of the faces of the WNBA. 

Candace Parker Was Next Level

Recently-retired Parker headlined the 2008 WNBA draft as the LA Sparks’ No. 1 pick in what many consider the best draft class the WNBA has ever seen.

She was generational in that she was positionless and could do everything from shoot the trey to dunk. When she got together with the greatest WNBA center of all-time, Lisa Leslie, the Sparks doubled their win total from 10-24 (tied for worst in the league) to 20-14 and a second-round playoff appearance.

If Clark and Aliyah Boston can make that happen, then maybe one would be less inclined to dismiss these fan polls as delusional or prisoners of the hype.

But Vegas is buying in too.

Vegas Odds Have CC As Top 3 MVP Candidate

Wilson currently leads the odds at +100, a reflection of her consistent dominance on the court. Close behind is Breanna Stewart at +750. There are plenty of other worthy candidates, but Clark is already third at +950.

Clark, who dazzled fans with her prowess in women’s college basketball, is facing high expectations as she transitions to the professional stage. Clark is just touching the floor tonight for the first time and she’s already 100 times more popular and marketable than her direct competition. 

Do Fans Have Unrealistic MVP Expectations For Cailtin Clark?

There’s no guarantee that Clark will even be in the running for MVP because her team is ranked at the bottom of WNBA preseason power rankings. According to WNBA League Pass, Indiana is the ninth-best team in the WNBA out of 12 teams. 

Wilson is coming off back-to-back championships and her Las Vegas Aces squad is expected to three-peat. Stewart’s Liberty lost to Las Vegas in the WNBA Finals last season, and they will be contenders again. 

So, while everything Clark does will be magnified, the team wins might not come as quickly as the fans would like. Still, to remain in the MVP conversation all Clark has to do is put up some decent numbers and perform well when on television. She’s the golden ticket. The show will never be the same again without her.

WNBA Needs Caitlin Clark To Be Fabulous From Jump

The WNBA needs her to ascend to stardom quickly and the fans want it. The fringe fans who are only interested in Clark and never paid attention to the league before her arrival, (which is now probably about 30 percent of the WNBA fan base), will want to see her vying for awards and being recognized as a face of the league. 

Some are already crediting her with having the “Larry Bird” Effect. These preseason polls that totally boost Clark and dismiss any woman who played hoops before she attended Iowa and broke the all-time NCAA scoring mark will only add hate to the fire. 

Which also makes every Caitlin Clark game a must see. The people have spoken. But the players still believe they will have the last word.

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