Many times when a player, even an established veteran, heads to a new team there’s an adjustment period as they get used to unfamiliar teammates and surroundings. Usually, their play isn’t quite what it normally is in the early stages of the season, but for Fever forward Candice Dupree, change has had little effect on her, as despite this being her first season in Indiana, the veteran in the midst of her 12th year in the WNBA is playing as well as she ever has.
Dupree is currently Indiana’s leading scorer and rebounder, putting up 13.9 points and grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game. She’s also been efficient, making 48.7 percent of her attempts from the floor and 86.7 percent of her free throws. Dupree’s play this season earned her a trip to her sixth WNBA All-Star Game, where she’ll represent the Fever in Seattle as a reserve on the Eastern Conference squad.
Dupree was acquired by the Fever to fill the spot in the lineup previously occupied by Tamika Catchings, and with stats like those midway through the season, there’s no doubt she’s been everything Indiana hoped she would be.
Fever head coach Pokey Chatman thinks Dupree’s success stems from her basketball IQ, as well as the fact that they’ve worked together before.
“It’s both because Candice is a player that understands the game as if she’s a point guard,” Chatman said. “She creates opportunities for herself and others, and I had the pleasure but also an opportunity to coach her abroad, so I’m pretty familiar with areas she likes to play.”
Knowing Dupree like she does has enabled Chatman to put her in favorable situations. She’s called plenty of plays for Dupree, while also trying to add to her game.
“I think the only thing I probably added was Candice was a nice low block player,” Chatman said. “A lot of times just by design putting her on the low block because even though she’s not a tall player, she has some really nice effective moves down there. It’s been wonderful.”
Dupree agrees that her familiarity with Chatman has made the move to Indiana a smooth one.
“I mean I’ve played for Pokey before, so I know what she’s all about, so that part of the transition was pretty easy,” Dupree said. “It’s just trying to get used to my teammates and the things they’re comfortable with and not comfortable with, so that’s probably been the biggest thing.”
But so far, those playing with her have no complaints. According to point guard Briann January, seeing her be this successful in a new situation isn’t surprising.
“She just does a great job of staying shot ready,” January said. “Her pace is awesome. She doesn’t rush anything. She’s super effective and efficient when she gets the ball, and I think that’s one of the reasons [why it’s been an easy transition].
“She’s calm. She knows the game inside and out, so for her to be able to work her way in was very easy and made my job a whole lot easier. I have one eye on her all the time when we’re on offense. She does a lot on defense as well. Her leadership has just helped our team. We are very happy she’s here.”
For the always even-keeled Dupree, she’s just trying to approach her first season here like she has everywhere else she’s suited up.
For the Fever, Dupree’s been what they’ve needed and will continue to need as they enter the second half of the season looking to secure a 13th consecutive playoff birth.
Fever Film Room Ft. Candice Dupree