One of the nice things about the WNBA All-Star break (technically, the Stars at the Sun break this season) is that it usually falls right about at the midpoint of the season. This year, teams have averaged about 18 games down of their 34-game schedules. That’s where the Storm currently stands. There is no better time than now to check in on the advanced numbers. As always, see our updated Statistical Analysis 101 page for explanations of these stats.
Team ORtg Team DRtg ------------------- ------------------- Seattle 112.3 Indiana 92.0 Phoenix 109.7 Washington 96.4 Connecticut 103.0 Atlanta 98.0 Atlanta 102.6 Seattle 98.1 LEAGUE 101.7 Chicago 99.3 Washington 101.4 Connecticut 101.5 Indiana 101.4 LEAGUE 101.7 Chicago 101.1 New York 102.5 New York 101.1 Minnesota 104.0 San Antonio 98.4 San Antonio 105.2 Los Angeles 98.4 Tulsa 106.5 Minnesota 96.5 Los Angeles 106.7 Tulsa 93.3 Phoenix 109.6
The Storm and Mercury are actually widening their lead on the rest of the league in Offensive Rating. The difference between the two teams’ records thus far can be explained by the fact that the Storm ranks fourth in Defensive Rating, the Mercury last.
A couple of interesting trends. First, the Sun has really been struggling on defense during a three-game losing streak that has put Connecticut’s spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs in some jeopardy. The Sun dropped from fourth in the league in Defensive Rating, just behind the Storm, to sixth and far behind the league’s five best defenses.
While the Lynx offense continues to flounder, Minnesota has been clicking lately on defense, helping the Lynx solidify fourth place in the Western Conference.
Team Pace ------------------- Tulsa 84.0 Atlanta 84.0 Phoenix 83.8 Minnesota 79.2 Connecticut 79.0 LEAGUE 78.1 Los Angeles 77.3 San Antonio 75.9 Indiana 75.4 New York 75.2 Washington 75.0 Chicago 74.1 Seattle 73.3
At the break, we’ll add pace to the team statistics we consider. The Shock is barely edging out the Dream for the league’s fastest pace, with Phoenix an unfamiliar third. The Storm continues to play the league’s slowest basketball, though you wouldn’t know it from the team’s potent fast-break offense this season.
EXPECTED WINS STANDINGS
Team Exp. W% Team Exp. W% ------------------- ------------------- Seattle .842 Indiana .711 Phoenix .523 Washington .658 Minnesota .319 Atlanta .622 San Antonio .312 Connecticut .546 Los Angeles .293 Chicago .507 Tulsa .154 New York .464
We’ve already discussed the two biggest changes here – Minnesota climbing in the West and Connecticut slipping in the East. It’s interesting to note that the Hollinger Power Rankings have a totally different pecking order in the East, with the Sun in last because of strength of schedule and the Sky up there with the conference’s elite teams. Both systems agree on the Fever being the class of the East, though Hollinger’s numbers actually have the Fever atop the league.
Player Tm Win% WARP ------------------------------------- Lauren Jackson SEA .817 5.4 Sylvia Fowles CHI .767 5.4 Tamika Catchings IND .818 4.9 Tina Charles CON .681 3.6 Penny Taylor PHO .673 3.5 Sue Bird SEA .679 3.4 Crystal Langhorne WAS .645 3.3 Katie Douglas IND .671 3.1 Cappie Pondexter NYL .630 3.0 Diana Taurasi PHO .640 3.0
Lauren Jackson sitting out Tuesday’s game allowed Sylvia Fowles to pull into a virtual tie for first place in the league in WARP. As you can see, Jackson has an advantage on a per-minute basis, but Fowles has played two extra games (one because of Jackson’s injury and one because Chicago has had an additional game on the schedule).
Jackson’s countrywoman Penny Taylor leaped all the way from 11th in our last update to fifth in the league. I’m surprised Taylor’s assist spree hasn’t gotten more attention. Doing more playmaking with Cappie Pondexter in New York, Taylor is a remarkable fifth in the league with 4.8 assists per game (she’s also in the top 10 in points and steals, free throws and three-point percentage, which is impressive stuff). We’re going to have to start calling her a point forward.
Speaking of Pondexter, she’s cracked the top 10 for the first time this season. Pondexter ranks fifth in the league in Offensive Rating, trailing Jackson, Taylor, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi. Yes, three of the top five offensive players in the league by our numbers were teammates last year. So perhaps this Miami Heat trio isn’t completely unprecedented. …