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Defense, Rebounding, And Playing With Heart: Why The Indiana Fever Signed Emma Cannon To Rest-Of-Season Deal

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at September 8, 2021

The Indiana Fever have inked assertive forward Emma Cannon to a rest-of-season contract, the team announced on Monday.

Cannon, a 32-year old power forward, has been with the Fever since the Olympic break concluded in mid-August. She signed a 7-day contract that began once the break ended, and she signed two additional 7-day deals with Indiana in the span between then and Monday.

WNBA players aren’t permitted to sign more than three 7-day contracts with one team in a season, so once Cannon’s third week-long deal expired on Sunday, the team signed her to a rest-of-season deal promptly. Indiana was able to do so without releasing a player thanks to the hardship exception—since multiple players are presently injured for the Fever (Danielle Robinson, Bernadett Hatar, and Chelsey Perry have all missed multiple games), they were able to bring in Cannon without a corresponding move.

“We’re all excited for her,” head coach Marianne Stanley said of Cannon getting a deal for the rest of the season. “Emma has added a lot to our team. Love her energy, love her effort.”

Cannon has finally found a home in Indiana after bouncing around the WNBA in recent seasons. She spent the 2017 campaign with the Phoenix Mercury, her first season in the league after going undrafted in 2011, and then joined the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA bubble for a few games in 2020. In the ongoing season, she spent time with both the Aces and the Connecticut Sun for short stints before landing in Indiana, where she has achieved the biggest role in her career thus far.

Between the number of injuries the Fever have dealt with recently and her seamless fit within the team’s culture, Cannon quickly became a useful piece for the team in the Circle City. Multiple players who often get minutes at the power forward and center positions, including Jantel Lavender, Jessica Breland, Hatar, and Perry, have missed time since the Olympic break, so Stanley has called Cannon’s number often.

The newest Fever player has responded well to her expanded role. She played nearly 20 minutes in her debut with the team and provided solid play during a close loss in Los Angeles. Just two games later, Cannon played for 30 minutes in Dallas, a game in which the Fever only had seven available players. Indiana won the game, and Cannon was a huge reason why — she contributed 16 points on 7/9 shooting as well as five rebounds in the win. Her impact was immediately felt by her new team.

“I thought Emma did a really nice job at the defensive end in particular. She’s an undersized post player, but she plays bigger than she is,” Stanley said after Cannon’s debut. She had five points and four rebounds against the Sparks, and the Fever outscored Los Angeles by three points with Cannon on the court. “She made some critical defensive plays that really helped us. I was pretty pleased for her first time.”

Cannon provides much of her value on the defensive end of the court. She’s tenacious and smart on the less glamorous end of the floor, and she fights hard on the glass. It’s rare to see the Florida Southern College product get bullied out of position or bumped away from a rebound.

The numbers display this well. Over the course of the season, the Fever have a 108.7 defensive rating when Cannon is not in the game. With Cannon on the court, though, that number falls to 100.0. The veteran forward has made the Fever 8.7 points per 100 possessions better defensively, which has substantially improved the team’s fortunes in recent games.

“Emma is somebody who can be relied upon to play hard every time, to play hard at both ends. And to just do what she does well and not try to invent things she’s not capable of doing,” Stanley noted. “She’s a good rebounder, she’s a good defender, she works hard, and she plays hard. And she’s team oriented, all of those things are things that we value.”

Off the court, part of what made Cannon so successful is that she fit in with her Fever teammates quickly. Many of members of the roster have raved about her and how she blends within the already-established team culture; anyone who plays hard every second they are on the court will become well-liked quickly.

Something else that helped Cannon was familiarity. In 2017 in Phoenix as well as 2020 in Las Vegas, Cannon was teammates with current Fever point guard Danielle Robinson. Additionally, Cannon and reserve guard Lindsay Allen were teammates with the Aces last season. Those two helped the 32-year old fit with her new squad.

“I feel super comfortable,” Cannon said of being with the Fever after a win in Dallas. “They welcomed me with open arms.”

Allen has enjoyed being reunited with her former teammate. The two have done well in their time on the floor together — Allen has assisted Cannon on made baskets as much or more than any other teammate this season, and the Fever have shot 51.7% with the duo on the court.

“With Emma, she’s such a vet. She just kind of fills in wherever you need her to,” Allen detailed earlier this week. “She fits in well. She just plays hard and with a lot of heart, and that’s kind of all you want in a teammate.”

Cannon’s contract only spans the rest of the ongoing season. But Stanley values the team’s culture and continuing to build upon the already-in-place values. Because Cannon clicks with her teammates and has fans within the franchise, it’s plausible that the Fever would want to bring her back next season, or at least bring her into training camp to fight for a roster spot.

But it’s too early to think about that. The Fever are still focusing on this season and making a late surge, and Cannon can help with that. She gels extremely well with the team on and off the court, so she should have no problems helping Indiana claim some victories in their last five games. Cannon’s defense and demeanor have helped the Indiana Fever in her three weeks with the team thus far, and now that she’s signed for the rest of the season, those skills will continue to help the team down the stretch.

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