Two full weeks into the 2008 WNBA season, the advanced statistics have settled down … slightly. With the Minnesota Lynx as the league’s last undefeated team at 4-0, there are still some surprises.
Let’s look first at the per-possession numbers on offense and defense.
Team ORating Team DRating--------------------- ---------------------Minnesota 111.6 Indiana 81.6Connecticut 104.2 Los Angeles 86.2Detroit 100.0 Detroit 91.3Phoenix 100.0 Connecticut 92.3Seattle 99.5 Seattle 93.5Chicago 98.7 AVERAGE 96.5AVERAGE 96.5 Minnesota 96.6Los Angeles 96.4 Washington 97.4San Antonio 96.0 Sacramento 98.3New York 92.9 New York 98.8Sacramento 91.8 Chicago 99.4Washington 90.2 San Antonio 99.5Houston 89.9 Houston 102.0Indiana 89.9 Phoenix 108.9Atlanta 88.8 Atlanta 115.0
Two teams in the league are playing games unlike anyone else at one end of the floor. The Minnesota Lynx are in a league of their own on offense, while the Indiana Fever has been otherworldly at the defensive end of the floor even without former Defensive Player of the Year Tamika Catchings.
I was surprised to see the Storm come out so balanced; it certainly feels like the team has been much better at the defensive end of the floor than the offensive end so far, though that might have something to do with the team’s slow pace.
So far, the Los Angeles Sparks have been way overrated on offense but underrated on defense. I doubt that will continue to be so extreme the rest of the season, but that actually doesn’t surprise me that much. The Sparks backcourt doesn’t offer a lot of shooting, and the team’s length is going to be very hard for opposing teams to combat.
How about the projected standings as based on point differential, converted to expected wins over the course of the 34-game season.
Team ExpW Team ExpW------------------ ------------------Minnesota 27.4 Connecticut 26.0Los Angeles 25.7 Detroit 24.7Seattle 22.4 Indiana 23.7San Antonio 14.2 Chicago 15.9Sacramento 10.5 New York 14.2Phoenix 10.0 Washington 9.8Houston 8.9 Atlanta 0.0
Three elite teams and then a drop-off in both conferences. Though Houston and Phoenix are winless, both have been very competitive (losing by a combined five points to the Storm) and should put one in the win column soon. For an alternative advanced look at rating teams, check out commenter Petrel’s effort to recreate John Hollinger’s power ratings at the RebKell boards.
Last but surely not least, let’s take a look at the individual leaders in Hollinger’s PER rating.
Player Tm PER----------------------------Sophia Young SAS 32.6Lindsay Whalen CON 31.4Sylvia Fowles CHI 28.4Plenette Pierson DET 27.7Candice Dupree CHI 27.5Charde Houston MIN 27.0Nicky Anosike MIN 26.5Candace Parker LAS 26.3Erika DeSouza ATL 26.2Cappie Pondexter PHO 26.0
It’s early, of course, but still a lot of surprising names remain in the top 10. How about the performance of rookies around the league so far? Three of them rate in the top 10, while Essence Carson (23.2), Candice Wiggins (22.4), Alexis Hornbuckle (21.6) and Erlana Larkins (20.6) are all playing at a high level.
The Storm’s leader in PER is Swin Cash (25.5), who ranks 12th in the league.