ESPN compares Caitlin Clark to Utah Jazz legend but is the comparison fair?

ESPN compared Caitlin Clark to Utah Jazz legend Pete Maravich, but is it a good comparison?
“Pistol” Pete Maravich, Guard of the New Orleans Jazz
“Pistol” Pete Maravich, Guard of the New Orleans Jazz / Ross Lewis/GettyImages

Caitlin Clark is arguably the best player in all of women's college basketball this season and will likely go No. 1 overall in the 2024 WNBA Draft, assuming she wants to continue her basketball career. And why wouldn't she? She's a once-in-a-generation talent and is on par with any WNBA star right now as far as name-value. She's truly talented.

So talented that ESPN compared her to the Utah Jazz's very own Pete Maravich, arguably the greatest pure scorer of all time. Maravich, who started his career playing for the LSU Tigers, got drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, before getting traded to the then-New Orleans Jazz. He would play for the Jazz for the rest of their time in New Orleans, before heading over to Salt Lake City with the team. He'd leave the Jazz mid-way through the 1979-1980 season, being picked up on waivers by the Boston Celtics and getting paired with Larry Bird.

He was a prolific scorer, so much so that he's currently the NCAA points leader in both men's and women's basketball. This without ever playing with a three-point line in college. He scored 3,667 points and did so in just three seasons while averaging 44.2 points per game from his sophomore to senior seasons. He also did all that without a three-point line to shoot from. Maravich though would've been a great three-point shooter, as he was famous for taking deep shots that would be well behind the three-point line.

Clark will likely end up breaking that mark in a matter of days. She has one more regular season game to pass Maravich and is currently just 18 points shy. This could be the last weekday that Maravich holds that record before Clark goes up against No. 2 Ohio State and tries to not only lead the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes past the Buckeyes but also pass Maravich along the way in doing so.

ESPN has compared the two collegiate phenoms, a move we don't agree with. It's important to acknowledge reality. Clark is the greatest women's player of her generation, and if she can finally bring home an NCAA Women's Title, she may very well be the best of all time. Yet, when comparing her to Maravich, the one thing we have to make sure to acknowledge is that Maravich left about 800 points on the table. The man averaged 43.6 points per game as a freshman, playing in 19 games. Not one of those points is credited to Maravich due to how freshmen were classified at the time.

Not only did Clark get an entire extra season to chase after Maravich's mark, she did so with a three-point line. Something Maravich didn't have. So yes, while Clark is the closet women's equivalent of Maravich and she'll likely claim the official scoring record against Ohio State, the Jazz's legend college career will still be more impressive.

But only barley.

Not only did he do all that damage in an era of tougher defenses, but he did so without the ability to get extra points for the distances he shot. So yes, respect Clark, she's an all-time great, but also acknowledge that Maravich's collegiate career is just more impressive.

That being said, Clark is a tremendous talent and if anyone deserves to take the official record, it's Clark. She'll likely be the No.1 overall pick and may actually raise the profile of the Indiana Fire should they select her first in the 2024 WNBA Draft.