Caitlin Clark should feel 'physically safe' amid debate over rookie's protection, Fever's Kelsey Mitchell says

Caitlin Clark’s name has been featured in countless sports headlines throughout the first few weeks of her first season in the WNBA. 

Much of the conversation about Clark has centered around the level of physicality the rookie has faced during her first handful of professional basketball games. 

“I think everybody is physical with me. They get away with things that probably other people don’t get away with,” Clark said May 28 after the Fever dropped a game to the Los Angeles Sparks.

After Clark was on the receiving end of a hard foul June 1 during a game against the Chicago Sky, discussions about whether Clark’s teammates do enough to protect her resurfaced.

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While Clark was able to break an impressive number of records during her unprecedented college basketball career, the top pick of the 2024 WNBA Draft appears to be going through an adjustment period.

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Clark leads rookies in a variety of statistical categories. She is averaging 15.6 points and 6.4 assists over her first 11 WNBA games. Clark has been credited with being the catalyst for the spike in attention women’s basketball now commands, but some have argued the increased attention has also made Clark a target.

Earlier this week, one of Clark’s teammates pushed back against the idea the team does not have the star guard’s back.

“I think she deserves to give herself some grace, and I think a lot of people around this world should too,” Kelsey Mitchell said. “At the end of the day, not only is she human, but she’s a 22-year-old kid. … There are certain things that she’s going to experience that comes with time. I think the world should give her some grace.”

Mitchell added that the team wanted to make sure Clark can feel her best from a mental and physical standpoint.

“I really do. I think that’s our job as a team, to make sure that she’s covered from a standpoint of feeling mentally and physically safe, obviously. … We want her to feel at home all the time.”

The Fever return to action Friday when they take on the Washington Mystics.

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