• The basketball rivalry between Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese has rejuvenated the WNBA.
  • A sellout crowd of over 10,000 fans was in attendance for their third clash of the season.
  • The Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky hit new records in ticket cost, sale speed, and quantity.

Since being selected at #1 and #7 in the 2024 WNBA Draft, Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese have brought their phenomenal success to the pro level. Their rivalry, which initially sparked in the 2023 NCAAW title game, has done wonders for the league. Both Clark and Reese were recently selected to join the WNBA’s All-Star roster.

Caitlin Clark vs Angel Reese: History of the Rivalry

WNBA viewership is up over 20% this season when compared to 2023 and has grown exponentially over the past decade. Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese are just the latest set of superstars to enter the league. A growing rivalry between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty has emerged, thanks to talented rosters featuring A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum, and Jackie Young on the Aces against Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, and Sabrina Ionescu of the Liberty.

Meanwhile, Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese have helped to create a second major rivalry in the WNBA between the Indiana Fever and the Chicago Sky. The Fever lead the league in attendance despite their 8-13 record, averaging over 15,000 fans in both home and road contests. In 2023, Indiana averaged 4,000 fans at home and under 2,000 on the road.

The Chicago Sky have seen a similar bump from Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso, with attendance up over 100% since last season. The league as a whole has grown massively this year, with the New York Liberty also averaging over 10,000 fans in the last month. The Las Vegas Aces, meanwhile, became the first WNBA team in history to fully sell out its season ticket packages.

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese have already begun to spread their brand identity with a variety of sponsorships. Clark signed deals with Nike, Gatorade, and State Farm, while Reese hauled in over a dozen NIL sponsorships and is currently in talks with Hershey’s Chocolate Company about becoming linked to the Reese’s Pieces brand. Sabrina Ionescu also just launched the second shoe in her wildly popular line, the Sabrina 2s.

The path to the WNBA’s enormous growth in popularity was paved by the increased attention in women’s college basketball. Clark and Reese had a staple rivalry during their time at Iowa and LSU. In 2023, they met in the National Championship Game, which ignited the rivalry. Reese got the better of Clark in that matchup, posting 15 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals as she led her teammates to a 102-85 win over the Hawkeyes. However, Clark got her revenge in the Elite 8 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament, scorching the Tigers for 41 points, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds in the 94-84 victory.

Following their heated clashes in college, Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese were both drafted in the top-10 of the 2024 WNBA Draft. Their rivalry grew even larger in the pros, with the two being selected to teams that were already geographical rivals in Indianapolis, IN and Chicago, IL. They faced off for the first time in the WNBA on June 1, in a thriller that Indiana won 71-70. Clark and Reese combined for just 19 points in the win, adjusting to the difference in difficulty that the pros bring.

In their second matchup on June 16, the Fever were again victorious. This time, Clark and Reese both played larger roles. Clark tallied 23 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds, while Reese picked up 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists. A week later, the Sky had their first win of the series, after Angel Reese exploded for 25 points and 16 rebounds. During the second game of the series, Reese received a flagrant foul for a hard contact play on Caitlin Clark, further enhancing the rivalry. With the two being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star roster, they’ll prepare to play their first game as teammates next month.

Caitlin Clark: What Makes Her Special

Image of Caitlin Clark Artist Verison

Caitlin Clark’s game is hard to compare to anyone currently in the WNBA. Her 3-point shooting ability is prolific and on par with the league’s best sharpshooter, Sabrina Ionescu. Clark often impressed with range in college, drawing comparisons to Steph Curry and Damian Lillard due to her lack of hesitation when it comes to pulling up and draining long 3-pointers.

That being said, Clark has more to her game than just shooting from beyond the arc. She moves fluidly with the ball in her hands and is already among the league’s best passers. Clark plays physically for her build, allowing her to frequently pull in enough rebounds for a triple double. Her game has shades of Russell Westbrook as well.

On the other hand, she suffers from similar flaws. When her shot isn’t going in, Clark will continue to let it fly. It’s a good sign for her confidence, but she has to adjust to being on a WNBA roster where she isn’t needed to take as many shots as she did on with Iowa in college. She’s also prone to turning the ball over and doing too much at times. As the pro game slows down for Clark, though, she should work her way to becoming one of the greatest athletes to play the sport at the professional level.

Angel Reese: What Makes Her Special

Image of Angel Reese Artist Verison

Angel Reese’s ability often flies under the radar when discussing this rivalry. She plays a less flashy style than Clark, unlikely to make a highlight reel 30-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer. That being said, Reese is every bit as phenomenal of a player. Where Caitlin Clark’s game is reminiscent of Curry and Westbrook, Angel Reese plays a lot like Anthony Davis or Draymond Green. She’s a menace on the boards and a difficult matchup to box out and keep covered. She is currently amidst a league-shattering double-double streak as a rookie.

A big facet of Angel Reese’s game that surpasses Clark’s is her defense. It could be argued that Reese’s swarming defensive ability makes her the more complete player and the bigger impact on the players around her. That being said, she’s had her own troubles as she adjusts to the pro level. Reese has been inefficient as a scorer, often taking multiple putback attempts to score. Her midrange game has regressed since being at LSU as well. If Reese can improve her shot as she adjusts to the pros, she should become a perennial all-star.

Caitlin Clark vs Angel Reese: Future of the Rivalry

With the WNBA growing at the rate it currently is, it won’t be long before it emerges as one of the most popular sports leagues in America. The league is slated for expansion in 2025, expected to add franchises in Golden State and Toronto, before seeking to add an additional two teams by 2028. That would bring the total number of teams to 16, further increasing the league’s parity.

By then, college superstars Paige Bueckers, JuJu Watkins, Hannah Hidalgo, and Malaysia Fulwiley will all have made their WNBA debuts, potentially creating even more exciting rivalries. Even in high school the competition is rapidly growing, which will greatly improve the game at every level as time progresses. The future of the sport is bright, especially as long as Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese remain locked in an exciting and heated rivalry.