WNBA rundown: Caitlin Clark's triple-double highlights how rare the feat really is

With just two weeks left until the Olympic break, WNBA action isn’t slowing down. Last week saw Caitlin Clark notch her first triple-double, and this week the league’s top two teams will battle for the second time this season. Meanwhile, injuries are starting to take a toll on teams across the standings.

Here’s what you need to know:

Clark may have been the first rookie to record a triple-double, but she’s not the first player to do it this season. Alyssa Thomas, who also holds the career record for triple-doubles, has two, and Layshia Clarendon recorded one for the Sparks, bringing the total for the season to four.

Clark’s triple-double came at an opportune time for the Fever as they work their way up the standings. The Fever have beaten teams in the bottom of the standings: the Sparks, Sky, Mystics and Dream, all of whom have below .500 records. But in the last two weeks, Indiana has also notched wins against the Mercury and the Liberty. The Mercury are in sixth place with an 11-10 record, and the Liberty are first in the league at 17-4.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MAY 20: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever drives against Alyssa Thomas #25 of the Connecticut Sun during a game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 20, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Caitlin Clark and Alyssa Thomas are in the triple-double club. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Clark helped the Fever to top the league’s best squad, thanks to her record-setting triple-double. She finished with 19 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds to lead the Fever to their biggest win of the season. Clark nearly reached the historic feat against the Mystics as well, when she recorded 15 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds in Indiana’s 88-82 victory on June 30.

Clark is the 16th player in WNBA history to notch a triple-double. Sheryl Swoopes recorded the first on July 27, 1999, with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists when she played for the Houston Comets. She got a second in 2005. Margo Dydek, Lisa Leslie, Deanna Nolan, Tameka Johnson, Moriah Jefferson, Courtney Williams, Satou Sabally, Sug Sutton and Clarendon each have one triple-double, while Courtney Vandersloot and Chelsea Gray each have two. Sabrina Ionescu and Candace Parker have three each to tie for the No. 2 spot, but Thomas is far ahead of anyone else, with 13 triple-doubles.

Thomas’ first triple-double came on July 22, 2022, when she recorded 15 points, 12 steals and 10 rebounds in a 94-84 win over the Lynx. She added three more in 2022 — including two in the playoffs — and seven in 2023 to get her total to 11. This season, Thomas got a triple-double in a win against the Fever on May 14 with 12 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. She got her second of the season on July 4 with 13 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in a 78-73 win over the Lynx.

Clarendon’s 2024 triple-double came in L.A.’s first game of the season when it fell to Atlanta 92-81. Clarendon had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, doing so without committing a turnover.

If the WNBA season ended today, the New York Liberty would claim the No. 1 seed, thanks to a 17-4 record and a tie-breaking win over the Connecticut Sun, who are also 17-4. The two play again Wednesday, when a win from the Sun could put them atop the standings. Or, another Liberty victory could help New York create separation.

The Lynx are third in the standings with a 15-6 record, followed closely by the 14-7 Storm and 13-7 Aces. The Mercury are the only other team above .500, with an 11-10 record, while the Fever (9-13) and the Sky (8-12) currently have the final two postseason bids.

As the playoff race heats up, injuries could play a part.

At the bottom of the standings, the Mystics and the Wings have been plagued by injuries. In Washington’s loss to the Lynx on Saturday, four key players were out due to injury or illness. Shakira Austin missed her 16th game of the season with a hip injury, while Karlie Samuelson (left hand) and Brittney Sykes (left foot) were also out. Emily Engstler didn’t play due to illness.

Meanwhile, the Wings are still without Maddy Siegrist, who is out with a broken finger, and Satou Sabally, who has yet to play due to shoulder surgery in February. She is expected to be back after the Olympic break, while Siegrist is out indefinitely. One bright spot for the 5-17 Wings is the play of Odyssey Sims, who was signed to a hardship contract. In six appearances this season, she is averaging 14.8 points, 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

The third-place Lynx are also dealing with what could be a season-changing injury. Their 15-6 record is in jeopardy after Napheesa Collier left her team’s July 4 loss to the Sun with plantar fasciitis in her left foot. Collier is out indefinitely. She’s currently one of the leaders in the MVP award race and is also slated to compete with Team USA in the Olympics, if she can.