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Diana Taurasi says Caitlin Clark’s game is ‘going to translate’ after predicting her early struggles

In Sports
May 18, 2024

Diana Taurasi received a lot of flak for daring to suggest Caitlin Clark would have to go through a transition period in the WNBA. She also wasn’t wrong.

Two games into Clark’s career, the former Iowa star is looking like … a 22-year-old playing against fully grown professionals only a month and a half after wrapping up the college season. The Indiana Fever are 0-2, with neither game being particularly close, while Clark is shooting 30.4% from the field with 13 turnovers.

As Taurasi said last month, Clark’s in a position where she’s going to have give herself some grace as a rookie facing unprecedented expectations.

Taurasi spoke about Clark again Friday during an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7, noting that her previous comments were taken out of context and endorsing the idea Clark’s game will translate:

“You know these days, everything takes a life of their own,” Taurasi told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “Every little snippet, every little comment, any quote taken out of context. Look, I only said it because when I watch games — and I’m sure when you talk to any professional athlete — you think about what they’ll look like as a pro.

“How will it translate? It’s going to translate. Like any college quarterback, it’s going to take time.”

Clark’s responsibilities are especially demanding among the WNBA’s much-anticipated rookie class. She joined a team that struggled enough last year to land the No. 1 overall pick and was immediately designated as their primary ball-handler, a notoriously difficult position for rookies to immediately acclimate. Facing two of the WNBA’s top teams, the Connecticut Sun and New York Liberty, in her first two games didn’t help.

As Taurasi explained, being a professional is hard even when you’re an elite player:

“I still don’t feel comfortable,” the 21-year-veteran Taurasi said, speaking on the physicality of the WNBA. “It’s an uncomfortable league. It’s physical, it’s a grind. You never feel comfortable. You feel used to the things around you (as you play more). At the same time, she’s in an interesting position where she’s played on the ball her whole career. Sometimes you have to play off the ball, sometimes that’s the solution.”

It won’t get much easier for Clark anytime soon, as her next two games are repeat dates with the Liberty and Sun.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 14: Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury jokes around with Chelsea Gray #12 of the Las Vegas Aces on her bench in the fourth quarter of their game at Michelob ULTRA Arena on May 14, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Mercury 89-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Diana Taurasi has been blunt about Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The line from Taurasi that got everyone’s attention, and splashed against no shortage of social media feeds, was “reality is coming.”

The quote came from an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt alongside UConn and Team USA teammate Sue Bird and sounds harsh — until you hear the rest of the quote. Then it sounds fairly prescient:

“Reality is coming. There’s levels to this thing and that’s just life. We all went through it. You see it on the NBA side, and you’re going to see it on this side where you look superhuman playing against 18-year-olds, but you’re going to come with some grown women who have been playing professional basketball for a long time.

“Not saying that it’s not going to translate, because when you’re great at what you do, you’re just going to get better, but there is going to be a transition period where you’re going to have to give yourself some grace as a rookie. It might take a little bit longer for some people.”

It should also be noted the context was Van Pelt saying, “Camilla [Kardoso] is coming, Caitlin is coming.” Taurasi was talking about how the rookie class would adjust to the WNBA in general.

Taurasi received more attention by saying she would draft UConn star Paige Bueckers over Clark (maybe not a surprise given her alma mater) during the Final Four and saying that “the new fans are really sensitive these days” in the aftermath.

Hearing this kind of stuff shouldn’t be a surprise from anyone familiar with the famously blunt Taurasi.

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