The Indiana Fever finished last in the league in 2018 and have compiled a 15-53 record over the past two seasons. They were dealt a blow this week as Cappie Pondexter, the veteran guard who signed with the Fever last season and averaged 10.2 points in 17 games, announced her retirement.
Yet, there is hope for the Fever. Indiana brought back starters Natalie Achonwa and Erica Wheeler. Shenise Johnson was also re-signed, not having played since 2017 when she tore her ACL. Last time Johnson played, though, she was putting up career numbers.
But with the 2019 draft class, the Fever found players to help them today.
Teaira McCowan: A triple threat down low
The No. 3 pick out of Mississippi State, McCowan, standing at 6-foot-7, is a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor. McCowan was made a full-time starter for her junior and senior seasons, totaling 75 games. In that time, she averaged 18.3 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks while shooting 62 percent from the floor.
McCowan’s ability to make things difficult around the rim will earn her playing time in Indiana. Her offensive game provides a strong option in the post that should gain attention from defenses. The Fever were near the bottom of the league in rebounding — expect that to improve with the addition of McCowan.
Third-round picks can have impact
The Fever drafted twice in the third round, adding Paris Kea from North Carolina and Caliya Robinson out of Georgia.
Paris Kea was the bright spot on an otherwise mediocre North Carolina team. She averaged 18.0 points in her career. Kea provides additional depth at guard with her scoring ability, especially as a career 35 percent 3-point shooter. She also brings a knack for defense, averaging over two steals through 91 career games. Kea is a do-everything guard and should provide great depth behind Vivians and Mitchell.
The Fever added another big-time defensive player out of the SEC in Caliya Robinson. Robinson was selected to the SEC All-Defensive Team in three straight years and left Georgia with 292 career blocks, which was second in program history. She also was named to the All-SEC First Team in her final season. Robinson’s offensive game is well-rounded, as she can step out beyond the arc and battle in the post. Her final season as a Bulldog saw her average 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks, and she shot 35 percent from downtown.
Robinson should see time off the bench. Her ability to space the floor should provide opportunities for post players to take their opponents one-on-one.
The Fever are a young team with much promise. McCowan and Robinson get the chance to learn from Candice Dupree and Achonwa, two well-established players. Dupree could take more of a support role if McCowan impresses early.
Although the Fever should improve their win total from last season, their lack of experience should keep expectations low. There is a lot of potential, but it will take time for it to develop into winning basketball.