February 2, 2024 

What Katie Lou Samuelson and Damiris Dantas bring to the Indiana Fever

The Fever wanted to add floor spacers, and who could blame them?

The Indiana Fever signed Katie Lou Samuelson and Damiris Dantas to multi-year contracts on Thursday. The news was first reported by The Next (twice!) and then made official by the team. Samuelson and Dantas are the team’s first two additions of the free agency period.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

Both players are former first-round draft picks and did not play in the WNBA during the 2023 season. For the 26-year-old Samuelson, it was due to pregnancy and her ensuing maternity leave. Dantas, meanwhile, was waived by the Minnesota Lynx after the preseason and never re-joined a team. She played internationally for Brazil in the Women’s FIBA ​​AmeriCup in the summer and also played overseas.

Now, they both join the Fever and will fill key roles.

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

For Samuelson, it’s as a shooter on the wing. She averaged 9.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in 2022 with the Los Angeles Sparks. The UConn product is a career 33.9% 3-point shooter, and she shot over 35.0% in her last two full seasons.

Not only does Samuelson make threes, she takes a lot — 5.0 per game in her last full season in the WNBA. Last year’s Indiana Fever roster ranked 10th in 3-point attempts per game, with only Kelsey Mitchell firing more than 2.5 per game.

The California native is also a capable defender, especially within team concepts. Her rotations and communication are excellent, and that will go a long way for a Fever team that is trying to build its identity around defense. Head coach Christie Sides will love everything Samuelson adds.

Not only does Samuelson fit a skill need, but she also fits a positional need. On the wing, the Fever needed someone more consistent. Now, they have a better mix of veterans and developing pieces in those spots with Samuelson, Victoria Vivians and Lexie Hull.

Before free agency opened, Fever general manager Lin Dunn had wondered who would be at the small forward position. “I think there’s still some question about who’s going to be on either side of Kelsey Mitchell,” Dunn said in December. “Kelsey Mitchell is our two-guard, one of the best two-guards in this league. … Who is going to be at the one? Who is going to be at the three?”

Perhaps the team has its answer in Samuelson. Maybe it can add someone else, too. Either way, it got a strong shooter on a two-year deal who can play both the three and the four. That’s a boost for Dunn’s squad.

Minnesota Lynx big Damiris Dantas boxes out Phoenix Mercury wing Diamond DeShields as both look up towards the rim.
Minnesota Lynx forward Damiris Dantas (12) boxes out during a game against the Phoenix Mercury at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on June 23, 2022. (Photo credit: John McClellan | The Next)

Dantas, meanwhile, gives the Fever a veteran presence on the interior. That’s something that Dunn mentioned as being important twice in the last few months — once when discussing the rationale behind trading Queen Egbo for Amanda Zahui B. midseason and again when looking toward free agency.

“We needed someone else in the post position that was a veteran. We needed some more leadership there. We needed someone there that was willing to accept whatever role that we gave them.” Dunn told The Next in late August.

Then, in December, she pondered, “Who is going to back up [NaLyssa] Smith and [Aliyah] Boston?”

She has her answer in Dantas.

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

The 31-year old frontcourt player has a history of success in the WNBA and internationally. In her four most recent WNBA seasons, she showcased a similar skill to Samuelson: shooting. Dantas attempted at least 4.1 3-pointers per game from 2019 to 2022, and she made 36.4% of them. She has solid touch around the rim as well, so her ability to be a multi-level scorer will be valuable for the Fever.

Dantas should instantly fill in at both the backup four and five positions at times. Those roles were occupied by Zahui B. and Emma Cannon last season, but both are free agents. Perhaps they could be back, but if they return to Indiana, their roles will be smaller due to the Fever’s new addition.

Dantas had some impressive games for the Lynx in recent seasons and showed improvement in several skills. She averaged 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in 2022, her most recent WNBA season.

Get 24/7 soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribe to The Next now and receive 50% off your subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

It’s clear that the Fever wanted to add floor spacers, and who could blame them? With Mitchell, Boston and Smith in the mix, spacing and shooting are vital traits for Fever role players. If Caitlin Clark winds up going pro and assuming point guard duties in Indiana, there will be a ton of spacing for players to work with next season.

Dunn stressed the need for talent next to Mitchell and veterans behind the young bigs. She got it on Day 1 of free agency. It was a productive start for the Fever, and they could do more given that they still have salary cap room to work with.

Written by Tony East

Indiana Fever reporter based in Indianapolis. Enjoy a good statistical-based argument.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.