I had hoped to do an update on league stats as of the All-Star break, but things got a little hectic the last couple of days so I’ll have to settle for one game into the second half of the season. With no further ado, the numbers (explanations):
Team ORating ------------------- Phoenix 103.4 Seattle 103.3 Indiana 101.7 Detroit 100.1 Connnecticut 99.5 Washington 98.1 San Antonio 97.6 Sacramento 96.7 Minnesota 96.7 Chicago 96.2 Houston 95.4 Los Angeles 94.3 New York 92.8
Last night’s win was just enough to sneak the Mercury ahead of the Storm’s as the league’s best offense. The Shock and Sun have both surged forward, meaning there isn’t the huge gap between third and fourth place we used to see. San Antonio has already jumped forward, though a lot of that can be credited to Erin Buescher – now lost for the season with a torn ACL.
A team going up also means a team going the opposite direction, and in this case L.A. is the team falling off a cliff. We all know why the Sparks have struggled with Lisa Leslie out and Chamique Holdsclaw having suddenly retired, but the magnitude of that drop-off is pretty incredible. Here is the trend over the various times I’ve calculated L.A.’s Offensive Rating:
June 18: 104.6 (second in the WNBA)
June 24: 101.9 (rank N/A)
July 3: 97.9 (fourth)
July 10: 96.9 (N/A)
July 17: 94.3 (12th)
Updating it about weekly, that’s a precipitous decline of 10 spots and 10 points per 100 possessions.
Team DRating ------------------- Indiana 90.0 Sacramento 91.8 Detroit 93.0 New York 95.5 San Antonio 95.6 Seattle 96.7 Connecticut 99.2 Phoenix 100.5 Washington 100.7 Los Angeles 100.9 Chicago 101.4 Houston 103.7 Minnesota 105.8
Not a lot of big moves in the defensive rankings. The only team to change more than a spot was Chicago, which has dipped to 11th in Defensive Rating. The Sky’s offense isn’t good enough to make the playoffs without improved D.
Again, the standings based on expected wins (as calculated from point differential):
WEST ExpW EAST ExpW ------------------ ------------------ Seattle 21.5 Indiana 26.4 Sacramento 21.0 Detroit 23.4 Phoenix 18.9 Connecticut 17.1 San Antonio 18.8 Washington 14.8 Los Angeles 11.7 New York 14.2 Minnesota 11.1 Chicago 12.7 Houston 10.3
On the strength of a few recent blowout wins, the Storm actually has the best point differential in the Western Conference. That’s not always a guarantee of anything – the Storm also had the best differential in the West in 2003, but finished out of the playoffs – but still a good sign. Even if the Silver Stars were healthy, I might predict a fall. Given Buescher’s injury, I’m not sure they can hang on to first place in the West.
The East standings look very different after Indiana and Detroit when differential is used instead of actual record. New York is really third, a full two games up on Washington, but the Mystics have been surging and have the superior point differential. This is one to watch down the stretch.