• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

For Caitlin Clark and Other Rookies: Now a 29-Day Sprint to WNBA Debut

  • There are only 37 days between the end of March Madness and the start of the WNBA season.
  • Several early-season matchups involving Clark could bring viewership spikes.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When players are drafted into leagues like the NBA, NFL, or NHL, they get several months to acclimate to their new team, city, and surroundings before any regular-season action. That’s not the case for first-year WNBA players, though. Not to mention the ensuing whirlwind for their new teams and the league’s broadcast partners looking to become familiar with the fresh talent. 

There are only 37 days between the women’s NCAA national championship game, which featured No. 1 pick Caitlin Clark (Indiana Fever) and No. 3 selection Kamilla Cardoso (Chicago Sky), and the start of the WNBA regular season, with an even shorter 29-day sprint from the draft to debut day:

  • April 7: Women’s national championship game
  • April 15: WNBA draft
  • April 28: Training camps open
  • May 3: Preseason begins
  • May 14: Regular season starts

And from there, the drama is only getting started, with several eye-catching matchups involving Indiana slated for the first few weeks, across four different broadcast partners in Disney, Amazon, Ion, and NBA TV. Those broadcasters are no doubt hoping the interest in Clark that led to record viewership during March Madness translates to the professional ranks. Meanwhile, teams’ ticket offices will be working overtime to sell fans on the best matchups.

Clark’s second and third games in the league, on May 16 and 18, will be against Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty, last year’s WNBA Finals runners-up. May 24 and 25 will bring an enticing back-to-back for the Fever: Visits to the Los Angeles Sparks, who used the No. 2 pick on Cameron Brink, and the defending champion Las Vegas Aces. 

Finally, on June 1, Indiana will face Chicago in the first game of the Commissioner’s Cup, which awards $500,000 to the winning team. In that matchup, Clark will face two old collegiate rivals in Cardoso and former LSU star Angel Reese, who was taken with the No. 7 pick by the Sky. 

What About This Expansion Talk?

At the WNBA draft, commissioner Cathy Engelbert (above, right) once again laid out her goals for growing the league. With a Bay Area franchise becoming the 13th club next season, the hope is to now have a 14th by 2026, with 16 teams by 2028.

But this isn’t the first time Engelbert has offered an expansion timeline, and that hasn’t always panned out. Last May the commissioner’s plan was to have multiple franchises in new cities by 2025. She reiterated that stance in October, and for a time it looked like that was coming to fruition … but a bid in Portland eventually fell through

As she has done previously, Englebert on Monday pointed to Philadelphia, Toronto, Denver, Nashville, and South Florida, in addition to Portland, as potential expansion candidates. Other markets mentioned in the past have included Austin and Charlotte. If a 14th team is to be added for the 2026 season, it will likely need to be announced sometime around the WNBA Finals this fall to give the incoming franchise a proper runway, like what the Bay Area team is getting.

Linkedin
Whatsapp
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

The NBA’s Final Four May Not Be Exactly What the League Envisioned

This final four will need to lean on its own unique drama to draw big audiences.

Sports World’s Ground Zero: Dallas to Host NBA and NHL Conference Finals

American Airlines Center is the first arena to host NHL, NBA conference finals games in the same season since 2003.

WNBA’s Boom Time: Record Growth, Clark’s Debut, a Controversial Deal

League attendance is up by nearly a third, while the Liberty set a single-game ticketing record.

Fanatics Sues Marvin Harrison Jr., Says He Leaked ‘Misleading’ Info to ESPN

Harrison’s side says the two sides don’t have a contract, which Fanatics disputes.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

The Next Era of the Harlem Globetrotters

0:00

Featured Today

exclusive

‘This Is Semi-Pro’: Inside One Arena Football League Team’s Collapse

The collapse of the Georgia Force, as told by the players who lived it.
Michael Block signs autographs on the 18th hole during day three of practice for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.
May 19, 2024

‘I Prefer It This Way’: How Life Works for PGA Club Pros

Here’s how life works for the qualifiers at golf’s second major.
February 5, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; The grounds of the Capitol Building empty out following the conclusion of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech on February 5, 2019.
May 18, 2024

‘A Breathtaking Lobbying Campaign’: The NCAA’s Sophisticated Effort to Save Amateurism

Inside the carefully coordinated, multimillion-dollar operation to end the athletes’ rights era.
May 14, 2024

The WNBA Was Forged in Houston. Why Won’t It Go Back There?

Houston’s a perfect fit for expansion. The league isn’t considering it yet.

Careers

Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Adidas
Multiple - USA Careers
FanDuel
Multiple - USA Careers

Historic Premier League Season Closes As U.S. Influence Expands

Man City can expect to receive roughly $79 million from the EPL’s system of merit payments.
May 19, 2024

PGA Championship Drama Nearly Delivers a Major Boost to LIV Golf

Xander Schauffele takes home $3.3 million for his victory.
May 20, 2024

WNBA Investigating Las Vegas Tourism Arm’s $100K Payments to Aces Players

The sponsorship is worth more than several players’ salaries.
Sponsored

Major League Rugby’s Vision for American Rugby

How Major League Rugby is leading the Rugby renaissance in the U.S.
May 17, 2024

The WNBA Rookies Are Creating a New Celebrity Row

Major celebs like Kim Kardashian and Latto are showing up for the newbies.
May 16, 2024

Preakness in Spotlight: Chance of a Triple Crown Winner Bolsters Status

The presence of Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan gives a big boost to the Triple Crown’s middle leg.
May 15, 2024

PGA Championship Setting Revenue Records, but LIV Drama Still Looms

The PGA Championship tees off Thursday morning at Valhalla Golf Club.
May 15, 2024

Caitlin Clark Debuts With WNBA’s Most-Watched Game in Decades

The game averaged 2.12 million viewers, the WNBA’s highest since 2001.