Indiana Fever started the 2021 season with buzz around a great promotion campaign for their new jerseys and an exciting mix of veterans and upcoming players on the list.
The pitfalls of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season were apparently behind them. They had their first full training camp under second-year coach Marianne Stanley, which gave them plenty of time to learn Stanley’s system and play with more continuity on the field.
The pieces were in place for the underperforming Fever, but the season resolved quickly.
The fever started 1-5 and then ended in a franchise-worst 12-game losing streak before ending up in last place (6-26), ending with the franchise’s lowest season winning streak (2018, 2020). The fever has not had a winning season since Tamika Catchings retired in 2016, and once in the off-season, the fever is now in the midst of a five-year playoff drought.
Here’s the good and bad of Fever’s 2021 season:
The Fever saw center McCowan as a potential franchise pillar after drafting her No. 3 overall in 2019, and the third-year post has only confirmed that belief with her continued star play. McCowan recorded career highs in points (11.3), rebounds (9.6), field goal percentage (53.7), blocks (1.6) and assists (1.1) per game. match.
The former Mississippi State star also broke the franchise rebound record she set as a rookie with 308 rebounds in 2021.
Having a dominant presence inside is a must for success in the WNBA. McCowan has shown the ability to keep up with the best in the league. The next step is to take an All-Star leap. The potential is there, but the question will always be whether the fever can surround her with the talent needed to achieve greatness.
Mitchell has always been a talented goal scorer, but in Year 4, the sweet shooting guard has developed the consistency of a top-tier, go-to-scoring guard in the WNBA.
Mitchell matched last season’s breakout performance with an average of 17.8 points per game. The left-hander currently owns a league-best 23-game series of matches in double-digit goals.
More:How Kelsey Mitchell developed into one of the top scorers in the WNBA
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I could go with point guard Danielle Robinson, who kept well down at the start point guard spot in Julie Allemand’s absence, but at the age of 32, a strong season from Robinson does not affect the fever’s long-term prognosis.
A golden edge in Fever’s futility is their increased chances of the overall number 1 in the 2022 draft. WNBA draft odds are based on the overall records for a team’s last two seasons. At 12-42, the fever has the best chances (44.20%) of winning the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery.
The Fever have won the lottery seven times and had the best odds once before, but they have never won the lottery. The consequences of winning the lottery are significant because the potential No. 1 overall choice, Rhyne Howard, is the type of talent that Fever desperately needs. 6-2 the guard / attacker had an average of 19.9 points per. fight through three years in Kentucky, where he shot 38% from 3 and snatched 6.8 rebounds per game. match.
A big 3 by Howard, Mitchell and McCowan would give the fever three strong building blocks and a great chance of returning to the playoffs in 2022.
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Outside of Mitchell and McCowan, Fever has gotten a little production out of their draft picks. Lauren Cox, the overall No. 3 in 2020, played only 25 games for the fever before she was cut in late June.
Cox’s career got off to a slow start after she tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of her rookie season. She missed eight fights as a rookie, including the last four with a knee injury. The injury problems continued into year 2, forcing her to miss the first four games of the 2021 season. She averaged 1.4 points and 2.0 rebounds over the course of her feverish career.
Injuries have also slowed Aaliyah Wilson in the first round in 2021. Wilson played in 14 of Indiana’s 32 games, averaging 1.1 points per game. match, while shooting 14.3% from 3 at 8.5 minutes per. match. Making the adjustment to the WNBA is difficult, but getting so little production from a first-round pick on the worst team in the league is worrying.
Overall pick No. 4 Kysre Gondrezick also struggled to contribute during his 19 games with Fever, averaging 1.9 points per game. match of 28.6% shot from 3 before she left the team for personal reasons. Kysre’s last battle with the fever was on July 11th.
Gondrezick left Michigan during her second season for personal reasons, and she missed time early in her West Virginia career for personal reasons as well. There is no announced schedule for Gondrezick’s return to fever.
Everyone’s decision not to return to the 2021 season after playing in the Olympics for Belgium was an ominous sign. Allemand enjoyed a breakout rookie campaign, and after veteran point Erica Wheeler signed in Los Angeles, Allemand looked ready for increased success in a bigger role.
Everyone has played a lot of basketball between her overseas career in France and playing for her national team, so it’s understandable that she’s taking a break.
Would she have made a difference to the season result if she played? The once promising guard will enter the 2022 season as a question mark after she appeared to be a faithful at the all-important point guard spot.
It’s hard to win when your best players are not available. The fever injury report looked like an M * A * S * H unit during their last game against Chicago with seven players listed with different foods. Rookie Chelsey Perry (knee) and veteran center Bernadett Hatar (ankle) were out with season-ending injuries. Stable point guard Danielle Robinson missed the last eight games of the season with a knee injury.
Injuries are part of the game, but this season the fever had particular mishaps in that area. Only Kelsey Mitchell, McCowan and Lindsay Allen played in all 32 matches this season.