2018 Training Camp Preview: Indiana Fever

No one expected the post-Tamika Catchings era to be easy for Indiana, and the Fever find themselves with fairly low expectations heading into 2018.

No one expected the post-Tamika Catchings era to be easy for Indiana, and the Fever find themselves with fairly low expectations heading into 2018. Head coach and GM Pokey Chatman has fully embraced this rebuild in her second season with the franchise, trading longtime point guard Briann January and waiving forward Marissa Coleman in favor of younger (and cheaper) assets. These pieces, including #2 overall pick Kelsey Mitchell and #8 overall pick Victoria Vivians, will be Indiana’s main building blocks for 2018, but there are still plenty of spots up for grabs in Chatman’s rotation. Here’s a rundown of who the Fever currently have in training camp and what their outlook is.

Erica Wheeler

One of the few bright spots for the Fever last year, Wheeler continues to improve after bouncing around the WNBA her first few seasons. She earned the starting lead guard position as January battled injury, and responded by averaging career-highs in points and assists. Expect the speedy Wheeler to have a similarly heavy workload in 2018.

Erlana Larkins

Larkins is the Fever’s beast on the boards, but she needs to stay healthy to make an impact. Larkins is pound-for-pound one of the strongest players in the league and will, as usual, be relied upon to crash the glass and play physical defense. Her impact may be diminished, however, by the glut of other forwards brought into Indy this offseason.

Candice Dupree

As steady as they come, Dupree is entering her 13th WNBA season (2nd with the Fever). The forward is unquestionably the veteran leader of this squad, and while she might not be asked to put up the near-15 points per game she’s averaged throughout her career, she’ll definitely be tasked with helping bring along Indiana’s young core on and off the court.

Kelsey Mitchell

Finishing her career at Ohio State as one of the NCAA’s most historic scorers, Mitchell is the crown jewel of the Fever rebuild. She’ll be asked to play both backcourt positions as Chatman looks to turn her into the latest of a series of point guard success stories. Expect her to get a fairly long leash as she adjusts to the speed of the WNBA.

Shenise Johnson

A knee injury ended Johnson’s 2017 season prematurely, which raised questions about her status heading into free agency. Though she ended up re-signing with the Fever, it’s unlikely that she’ll be ready to start the season, and given the team’s rebuilding status, she shouldn’t be rushed back.

Victoria Vivians

Not many expected Vivians to be available when the 8th pick rolled around in this past Draft, but Chatman certainly isn’t complaining. A natural scorer, Vivians can light it up from both guard and forward positions and will have plenty of room to get her shots up on this roster.

Natalie Achonwa

Achonwa played a full season for the first time in her career in 2017, and responded with her usual efficient scoring in the post, shooting 55.7% from the field. She’ll have much stiffer competition in camp this year, though.

Tiffany Mitchell

Another guard whose 2017 was cut short due to injury, Mitchell will look to get back on track and take advantage of the minutes available to her. The South Carolina legend was an All-Rookie performer in 2016 and should be equally adept for the Fever whether she’s starting or coming off the bench.

Kayla Alexander

Acquired from Las Vegas this offseason, Alexander provides the Fever with something they’re sorely lacking in the frontcourt: length. She’s a legitimate 6’4” with the wingspan to match, and should challenge for the starting center position as Indiana looks to get bigger and more physical.

Erica McCall

McCall’s arrival to camp will be slightly delayed as she finishes her season in Hungary. The Stanford product will need to fight hard to earn a second year in Indiana; the forward’s recent success overseas should be to her benefit as she returns to the WNBA.

Stephanie Mavunga

Kelsey Mitchell’s teammate at Ohio State, Mavunga will likely be competing with McCall and Graves for the backup power forward spot. She’s a bit undersized, but has a very active motor, and her established chemistry with the Fever’s franchise rookie might give her an advantage here.

Alexis Peterson

The former Syracuse point guard was cut from Seattle before training camp began, and the Fever wasted no time in picking her up. Peterson is a tenacious defender who can fill it up from range. She’ll be competing for a reserve guard position on the Fever bench.

Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga

If Dupree is the Fever’s veteran presence in the post, Pohlen-Mavunga is her counterpart on the perimeter. Now in her 7th season in Indiana, it’s unlikely that Pohlen-Mavunga will see a ton of playing time (especially once Johnson returns), but if she does make the team, it will be for her valuable intangibles.

Bashaara Graves

Graves returns for her second stint in Indiana. The Tennessee product participated in the Fever’s training camp in 2017 before being waived and eventually signed by Chicago. Graves has her work cut out for her, competing against McCall, Mavunga, and Hamson for the team’s final post position.

Jennifer Hamson

If WNBA spots were given out based solely on size, Hamson would be a shoe-in. The 6’7” center from BYU makes shot blocking look like a breeze. She’ll need to show improved coordination and offensive skill to make this roster, though.

Jazmon Gwathmey

Gwathmey was acquired last season from San Antonio for a third-round pick. A long, toolsy perimeter player, she has potential as a defender and slasher, but is probably a longshot to make the Fever roster as of right now.

Hind Ben Abdelkader

Not a name familiar to most WNBA fans, the signing of this Belgian might have flown under the radar, but it shouldn’t have. Ben Abdelkader brings a steady outside shot to the Fever; she shot better than 40% from distance for Hatay BSB in Turkey this offseason (including 43% in EuroCup action), which is a welcome dimension to any training camp roster.

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