Grace Berger willing to do 'anything' to provide spark for Fever. She did on Thursday.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever began their preseason home opener out of sorts. Missed shots, defensive miscues and careless turnovers defined the first quarter and change of Thursday’s game vs. Atlanta.

Then came Grace Berger.

Despite veteran guards Kelsey Mitchell (left ankle) and Erica Wheeler (illness) being out on Thursday, Berger didn’t play in the first quarter against the Dream. When the second-year guard subbed in with 7:39 left in the second quarter, the Fever trailed by 15.

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Berger assisted on Fever baskets in her first three possessions on the floor to catalyze a quick 7-0 run. By the time the quarter ended, Berger had two more assists and Indiana was down just a point.

Berger finished with six points, five rebounds and seven assists. Her presence brought the Fever back into the game they eventually won 83-80.

“She came out there and she stabilized us,” Fever coach Christie Sides said. “She got us into some offense and we got good looks off it.”

Berger knows her playing time will fluctuate. With a guard rotation headlined by No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark and the two highest-paid players on the team — Mitchell and Wheeler — getting Berger involved isn’t a priority. But the IU grad feels she can bring a necessary punch off the bench.

“As someone coming off the bench, it's good that I get to kind of analyze the start of the game and can see what my team needs,” Berger said. “And then hopefully, I can come in and meet that need in any way I can. Whether that's rebounding, defense, running the team — really anything that I can do to provide that spark off the bench.”

After a few minutes of Berger running point guard, Clark subbed back in to play alongside Berger. The Fever ran a three-guard lineup of Clark, Berger and second-round rookie Celeste Taylor. With starting post players NaLyssa Smith and Aliyah Boston down low, the Fever’s momentum continued.

When Berger first entered the game, she was the team’s point guard. When she played with Clark and Taylor, Berger essentially became the small forward in that lineup. Berger played well enough to be in Indiana’s closing lineup, where she played shooting guard with Clark at point guard and free agent addition Katie Lou Samuelson at small forward.

The Fever have an abundance of lineup combinations to try throughout the year. If Berger can effectively alternate between playing three different positions on the floor, she’ll bring substantial value to what Sides and her staff do in 2024.

Berger was tasked with multiple roles in her 19 minutes of action, and she answered the challenge, finishing with a game-high +16 +/-.

“Once I got out there, it didn't matter who else was out there,” Berger said. “I felt comfortable running in the system.”

In a league as exclusive as the WNBA, players must do what it takes to stick around. Many players have to identify one niche skill and aim to perfect it. But Berger’s value comes from being able to do a little bit of everything.

At 6-0, Berger is tall enough and strong enough to go against small forwards. But her ball-handling and vision are sharp enough to play point guard in stretches.

There are only 144 guaranteed spots in this league, and Berger is a member of a competitive guard room this season. If she continues to show extreme versatility, Berger won’t just stick on the final roster — she’ll solidify a spot in the rotation.

Follow IndyStar sports reporter Zion Brown on X at @z10nbr0wn.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Grace Berger shows versatility for Indiana Fever in WNBA preseason win