Catchings or Douglas, Take Your Pick
When asked, a parent never wants to choose a favorite child. For the Indiana Fever, those two “children” are MVP candidates Katie Douglas and Tamika Catchings.
How do you pick between the two?
Just like the parent, the Fever cannot pick a favorite. They love them both equally and they bring equitable value to the team’s success.
Douglas and Catchings are both having great statistical seasons, on one of the WNBA’s best teams and the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed at 22-11.
Douglas is averaging a career high 17.6 points per game for the season and is also leading the WNBA in scoring since the All-Star break with a 19.9 ppg average.
Catchings has been a workhorse for the Fever doing anything and everything, filling the stat sheet whole. To go along with her 15.1 ppg and 7.3 rebounds per game, she is three steals away from a WNBA record of 100 in a season.
All the individual award talk for the two players seems small compared to the bigger picture.
“I don’t think either one of us would take any individual accolades in place of a championship,” said Douglas. “We are both dying and hungry for this championship and to put our team in a position to compete for a championship. “
“I’m definitely excited about the possibility of MVP, but for me the thing that is more exciting is the position we are in as a team,” said Catchings. “Everybody knows I’m not really an awards person. I’m more of a win person. At the end of the day, ten years from now you are not going to remember who won MVP, but you are going to remember who won the championship. That is most important.”
Indianapolis’ two WNBA awards voters, Indianapolis Star writer David Woods and Fever play-by-play announcer Chris Denari, both feel the duo is at the top of MVP consideration.
Douglas, the dynamic shooter and scorer; and Catchings, the stat stuffer. Both are 30 years old, both entering the WNBA in the 2001 college draft and both leading the Fever into its fifth straight playoff appearance. They wear consecutive jersey numbers – Douglas #23 and Catchings #24 – and they have been complementary catalysts in this year’s Fever success. Take your pick.
Catchings has been with the Fever every year since 2001, when she was drafted third overall. She missed a year due to injury and in 2002, won the WNBA Rookie of the Year.
Catchings carried the franchise on her back, leading the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals for six years from 2002-07. She was also voted to the WNBA All-Decade Team, which included five league MVPs on the team.
Her teammate, Douglas, she sees multiple strengths in the game of No. 24.
“She brings a lot of qualities,” said Douglas. “She brings that veteran experience, she brings leadership, she brings tireless work ethic. She is 110% every possession, every time we are out on the court. It is contagious for the rest of the team to want to go out and play at such a high level.”
Woods agrees with the “do-all” play of Catchings that puts her in the mix of MVP talks every year.
“If you want to measure everything Catchings does there is probably no player in the WNBA who does as many things well as what she does,” said Woods.
The all-around aspects of Catchings’ game, again, have helped her be considered this year.
“Her game is more than offense,” said Denari. “It’s very much about what she does defensively and how she has led this team over her career, specifically this year. She leads the league in steals, she rebounds, she averages three assists a game, she fills the stat sheet.”
“While her scoring numbers are lower than they’ve ever been in her career, she does so many other things that impact the game,” Denari continued. “I think that’s why she is definitely a worthy candidate.”
This year, Catchings has not had to score as much as previous seasons due to the chemistry with Douglas and growth of the team. Instead, she’s focused more on what she does well, and that’s just about everything else!
“This year, I’ve tried to do a little bit of everything, whatever the teams needs,” said Catchings. “I’m not trying to stress on just having to score points this year. Being able to score and lead the team on the defensive end, whatever I can do, that’s what’s important.”
While a league MVP has never averaged less than 17 points per game, is this the year the trend breaks?
“If anybody can be the MVP without scoring that much it would be Catchings,” said Woods. She rebounds well, she defends well, she really makes other players on the team better and some of her contributions can’t be measured. She is so valuable to the Fever in so many areas that I don’t think you could identify any other player in the WNBA who is as good in so many categories as Catchings is.”
Douglas: Scorer Extraordinaire
The native Hoosier, Douglas has enjoyed success in her second season with her hometown Indiana Fever. MVP talks have surfaced for Douglas who leads the Fever in scoring and has had 12 games scoring 20 points or more.
Pair Douglas’ best statistical year and the Fever’s best regular season, and Douglas shoots near the top of MVP talks for several reasons.
“Katie has probably had one of her best years,” said Denari. “Especially right after the All-Star break when she led the team in scoring in 8-of-9 games. She leads the team in scoring, she has hit some big shots, she is a good defender. A little bit different role than Catch, but she has scored the basketball consistency all year long. If you are the leading scorer on the best team in the league then that says you are MVP worthy.
The deadly shooter has also taken the pressure off Catchings to score, while also adding some fire to the team.
“The thing that she brings to the team is her tenacity on the offensive end,” said Catchings. “She can put up points in a hurry and she’s got such a drive to put the ball in the hole. She’s somebody that we look at to create for herself and others. She does a good job at doing that.”
Her focus and drive are things that are hard to ignore.
“She seems to bring a certain swagger, toughness or dynamic quality the Fever never really had to go along with Catchings,” said Woods. “Her presence has helped Catchings do a lot of the things she does. They have been very complementary toward each other.”
The points that Douglas has put up have been impressive considering the Fever has six players average over six points a game.
“She has not only been a big scorer for them, on a very balanced team,” said Woods, “but she has had some really spectacular games and has really carried them. She carried them to a win at New York, she scored over 30 points in consecutive games right after the All-Star break and she is the highest scoring player in the league since the All-Star break on a team with balanced scoring. That is meaningful.”
Douglas looks at herself to try to keep the team loose and lead in her own way.
“Like I told my teammates at the beginning, I just try to be steady for them,” said Douglas. “Catch has a way of leading, I have my way of leading. I like to keep everybody loose. I like to be steady for everybody and not get erratic out there. Obviously I like to spread the floor and open it up and knock down shots. We are at our best when we are having fun out there.”