The latest weekly update on the advanced WNBA statistics shows a lot of interesting movement. Let’s start with per-possession offense and defense, shall we?
Team ORating Team DRating--------------------- ---------------------Phoenix 104.5 Indiana 88.9Minnesota 103.3 Los Angeles 91.0Detroit 102.5 San Antonio 92.9Connecticut 102.1 Detroit 95.1New York 101.9 Washington 96.0Chicago 101.2 Seattle 96.1Los Angeles 99.7 Connecticut 96.8Seattle 98.5 Houston 97.8AVERAGE 98.0 AVERAGE 98.0San Antonio 96.4 New York 98.9Sacramento 95.1 Sacramento 99.6Washington 92.9 Minnesota 99.9Houston 92.6 Chicago 101.5Indiana 90.8 Phoenix 109.0Atlanta 90.6 Atlanta 109.1
For the first time all year, it is the Phoenix Mercury that boasts the league’s best offense. With Le’coe Willingham playing great basketball, the Mercury has missed Penny Taylor on offense much less than we expected. On the other end … not so much.
The trend for Minnesota’s Offensive Rating isn’t good. Two weeks ago, the Lynx were at 110.7. Last week, that dropped to 105.9, still good enough to lead the league. Now, their rating is 103.3. Naturally, that’s gone hand-in-hand with a five-game Minnesota losing streak.
Connecticut took a hit at both ends of the floor during a five-game road trip despite going 3-2.
From a more positive perspective, the New York Liberty boasted the league’s worst offense a year ago. Now, the Liberty sits fifth in the league. Remarkable turnaround. And since when have the Mystics been a defensive force?
Let’s look at the standings based on point differential, shown by expected wins over the course of the 34-game season.
Team ExpW Team ExpW------------------ ------------------Los Angeles 23.8 Detroit 24.4San Antonio 19.7 Connecticut 22.4Minnesota 19.4 New York 20.0Seattle 17.6 Indiana 18.8Houston 14.2 Chicago 15.8Phoenix 13.4 Washington 13.5Sacramento 13.2 Atlanta 1.8
The Sun and Silver Stars tumble. In the actual West standings, Minnesota and Sacramento are tied at 6-6. A look at point differential shows that the Lynx (who have lost six games by a combined 27 points) has played much better than Sacramento (whose six losses are by a combined 83 points). In the East, Washington is a game and a half up on Chicago in the standings, but the Sky has been the far more competitive team.
As usual, we wrap up with the leaders in John Hollinger’s PER for individual players.
Player Tm PER----------------------------Tasha Humphrey DET 33.4Diana Taurasi PHO 29.4Lauren Jackson SEA 26.9Lindsay Whalen CON 26.3Janel McCarville NYL 25.8Tiffany Jackson NYL 25.4Lisa Leslie LAS 25.4Cappie Pondexter PHO 25.1Sophia Young SAS 25.0Candice Wiggins MIN 24.9
Humphrey just snuck over the 100-minute threshold for entry (she’s played precisely 100 minutes) and thus leads the league, almost entirely on the strength of her huge game against Phoenix on ABC. We’ll see if she keeps up that pace. Taurasi has caught fire for the Mercury and leads the legitimate regulars.
You could probably surprise a lot of people by telling them that, statistically, the best frontcourt duo in the league plays for the New York Liberty. McCarville has played great since a slow start, while Jackson has been terrific off the bench all year. (Still, I’m going for Leslie and Candace Parker, who ranks 11th, if I’m picking top duos.)