Scary thought: By the end of this week, the Storm will be more than a third of the way through the 2008 campaign. The Storm and the Detroit Shock are the only teams in the league who have played nine games (three of them are sitting on six games so far), but this season is moving right along. Let’s check in on the advanced numbers, shall we?
Team ORating Team DRating--------------------- ---------------------Minnesota 110.7 Indiana 83.8Connecticut 104.4 Los Angeles 91.0Phoenix 104.4 Detroit 93.4Chicago 104.1 Connecticut 94.5Detroit 101.6 Seattle 96.3Seattle 98.8 New York 97.1AVERAGE 98.3 Chicago 97.4Los Angeles 97.3 San Antonio 98.0New York 97.2 AVERAGE 98.3San Antonio 94.5 Minnesota 98.4Houston 92.9 Sacramento 100.0Washington 92.6 Washington 100.7Sacramento 92.6 Houston 102.6Indiana 92.6 Phoenix 108.4Atlanta 91.6 Atlanta 115.1
It’s not too early to begin discussing where the Indiana Fever ranks amongst the best defenses in WNBA history. It’s also not too early to consider whether the Atlanta Dream is the worst defense this league has ever seen. Yikes! The Minnesota Lynx offense shows no signs of slowing, while it is the Connecticut Sun of all teams that has the league’s best balance, ranking in the top four in both offense and defense.
How about the standings based on point differential and expected wins over the course of the 34-game season?
Team ExpW Team ExpW------------------ ------------------Minnesota 25.3 Connecticut 25.0Los Angeles 22.2 Indiana 24.3Seattle 18.6 Detroit 24.1San Antonio 14.8 Chicago 21.3Phoenix 14.4 New York 17.8Sacramento 11.2 Washington 9.2Houston 10.0 Atlanta 0.0
Despite losing their first game, the Lynx remain the WNBA’s best team in terms of differential. Indiana deserves great credit for playing so well without Tamika Catchings. The big surprise to me, however, is that the East has been so much stronger than the West in the early going … although it probably doesn’t hurt to get to play the Dream so frequently. Consecutive victories over Atlanta by a combined 35 points did wonders for Chicago’s differential.
Let’s look at the individuals.
Player Tm PER----------------------------Lindsay Whalen CON 30.0Sophia Young SAS 26.6Cappie Pondexter PHO 26.3Lauren Jackson SEA 25.7Diana Taurasi PHO 25.1Seimone Augustus MIN 25.1Candace Parker LAS 25.0Sylvia Fowles CHI 24.7Tiffany Jackson NYL 24.4Plenette Pierson DET 24.1
How about some love for Lindsay Whalen? Whalen is, by my measure, the best passer in the league (just ahead of New York’s rookie surprise, Leilani Mitchell). She’s also pulling down nearly six rebounds per game from the point and shooting over 50% from the field. Can we get her a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team?
The combination of a strong week and several other players dropping off has Lauren Jackson up to fourth in the league in PER. That probably won’t be where she tops out.
Can we quiet the Candace Parker for MVP talk a little? Parker is terrific, and it’s a matter of when, not if she gets her first WNBA triple-double. However, Parker’s efficiency leaves much to be desired at this point of her young career.
Most of the surprising players have dropped off a little lately, but New York’s Tiffany Jackson has surged. Per 40 minutes, she’s averaging 18.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.3 steals.