The 2010 regular season is in the books. As we prepare for the postseason to tip off on Wednesday, here’s a last look at the advanced statistics for this year. As always, see our updated Statistical Analysis 101 page for explanations of these stats.
Team ORtg Team DRtg ------------------- ------------------- Phoenix 111.3 Indiana 96.9 Seattle 108.7 Washington 97.9 New York 105.6 Seattle 98.1 Indiana 103.1 Atlanta 99.5 San Antonio 103.1 New York 101.7 LEAGUE 103.0 Connecticut 101.7 Connecticut 102.7 Chicago 102.3 Atlanta 102.4 Minnesota 102.8 Washington 102.2 LEAGUE 103.0 Los Angeles 101.8 Los Angeles 105.5 Chicago 101.4 San Antonio 107.6 Minnesota 98.3 Tulsa 110.5 Tulsa 95.4 Phoenix 111.0
The league made an enormous jump in Offensive Rating after cracking 100 for the first time (100.4) a year ago. The biggest improvement was in terms of two-point percentage, which went up from 45.5 percent to 47.2 percent. The league-wide pace was also somewhat faster, so WNBA teams averaged 80.3 points per game this season, an increase of a full two points over last year’s 78.3 ppg mark. For comparison’s sake, NBA teams average 83.7 points scaled to 40 minutes.
Individually, the big surprise was San Antonio’s late climb up the offensive leaderboard. The Silver Stars, once a defense-first outfit, now win almost exclusively on the strength of their Becky Hammon-helmed offense. The New York Liberty did make up some ground on the leaders to finish a very solid third in the league in Offensive Rating.
With Indiana finishing fourth in Offensive Rating, it’s time to shift the label of defensive specialists to the Washington Mystics, who won the Eastern Conference regular-season crown despite finishing eighth in the league in offense. The Mystics were second in Defensive Rating, just ahead of the Storm.
The weird season-long trend was that the league was top-heavy on offense and bottom-heavy on defense, where Tulsa and Phoenix were significantly worse than anyone else in the WNBA on a per-possession basis.
EXPECTED WINS STANDINGS
Team Exp. W% Team Exp. W% ------------------- ------------------- Seattle .761 Indiana .638 Phoenix .504 Washington .620 San Antonio .393 New York .607 Los Angeles .391 Atlanta .575 Minnesota .388 Connecticut .538 Tulsa .112 Chicago .476
In the end, there weren’t many notable departures between point differential and won-loss records. The most interesting was Indiana dropping to third in the East despite the conference’s best expected winning percentage. Then again, the Fever could have tied for first with a win on Sunday in a game that proved meaningless because of outcomes earlier in the day. Indiana isn’t exactly flying under the radar, though I am of the opinion that whoever wins the series between the Fever and the Liberty has a good shot at knocking off the Mystics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In the West, the teams battling for the last two playoff spots were as close in point differential as they were in the standings. They did finish in the exact order expected winning percentage projected.
Team Pace ------------------ Atlanta 82.8 Phoenix 82.6 Tulsa 81.2 Minnesota 78.5 Connecticut 77.5 League 77.2 Los Angeles 76.5 Indiana 75.3 Washington 74.5 San Antonio 74.5 New York 74.3 Chicago 74.2 Seattle 74.2
The Dream surpassed the Mercury as the league’s fastest team this year after a close competition in 2009. For the third time in as many years under Brian Agler, the Storm was last in the league in pace of play.
Player Tm Win% WARP ------------------------------------ Tamika Catchings ind .800 10.1 Lauren Jackson sea .773 8.8 Sylvia Fowles chi .742 8.7 Cappie Pondexter nyl .694 8.0 Tina Charles con .660 6.3 Diana Taurasi pho .654 5.8 Penny Taylor pho .660 5.8 Sue Bird sea .641 5.6 Katie Douglas ind .637 5.5 Crystal Langhorne was .608 5.4 Player Tm Win% WARP ------------------------------------ Leilani Mitchell nyl .632 5.2 Becky Hammon sas .613 5.2 Angel McCoughtry atl .597 4.6 Monique Currie was .625 4.6 Sancho Lyttle atl .602 4.2 Tina Thompson las .565 4.0 Candice Dupree pho .572 3.8 Renee Montgomery con .578 3.7 Taj McWilliams nyl .564 3.6 Camille Little sea .577 3.3
Had Lauren Jackson played normal minutes down the stretch, we would have had an interesting battle for the league’s best WARP rating. As it is, Jackson finishes second in the league, with Tamika Catchings No. 1 for the second consecutive season. Jackson was ahead of Catchings in terms of net plus-minus, finishing fourth in the league in the category as tracked by the Lynx’s Paul Swanson. Sylvia Fowles was part of the “big three” all season long, and I hope she isn’t passed over for All-WNBA First Team honors because her team fell out of contention. Fowles did everything she could to help Chicago.
Surprisingly, Kennewick’s own Leilani Mitchell finished a hair outside the league’s top 10 in WARP. Mitchell surely owes some of her outstanding stat line to playing alongside Cappie Pondexter, but Mitchell was outstanding in her own right, knocking down 48.6 percent of her three-point attempts, dishing assists and putting pressure on opposing point guards. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to say Mitchell is better than Liberty predecessor Hammon, but I’ll heartily endorse Mini Mi as the WNBA’s Most Improved Player. New York joined the Storm and Phoenix as teams with three players in the WARP top 20, while Minnesota (best: Lindsay Whalen, 2.9) and Tulsa (Amber Holt, 1.3) did not have any representatives in the top 20.
Charles, naturally, was the leader in rookie WARP. Epiphanny Prince (3.2 WARP, much improved in the second half) was the only other rookie of note. Prince gave DeWanna Bonner (3.3) a good run for top reserve WARP as well. Look for big things from Prince next year if she steps into Chicago’s starting lineup.