It’s time to take our weekly look at the advanced WNBA numbers, and after a 2-0 weekend with a blowout win over Minnesota and a big road victory at Phoenix, they are very positive for the Storm. The Mercury sports an identical 5-2 record and Washington has a superior winning percentage at 4-1 (.800), but the Storm is well ahead of the pack in terms of point differential. Account for the Storm’s road-heavy schedule and the latest update of the Hollinger WNBA Power Rankings has the Storm far ahead of anyone else in the league.
Team ORtg Team DRtg ------------------- ------------------- Phoenix 111.1 Connecticut 91.2 Seattle 106.9 Indiana 93.7 Minnesota 105.5 Seattle 94.7 Washington 102.7 Detroit 95.3 Sacramento 100.3 New York 95.4 Indiana 100.2 Los Angeles 96.6 Chicago 99.8 Atlanta 98.0 AVERAGE 99.7 Washington 99.1 Connecticut 98.4 AVERAGE 99.7 New York 97.5 San Antonio 101.5 Atlanta 96.2 Phoenix 105.6 Los Angeles 89.7 Sacramento 106.6 San Antonio 88.8 Chicago 107.1 Detroit 88.3 Minnesota 107.6
The Storm’s offense has been the story in the early going, slightly outperforming their team’s defense relative to the rest of the league. Seattle has fallen prone to occasional offensive droughts, but has been as good team in the league at its best. At the other end, the Storm is far and away the best team in the league in terms of opponent field-goal and effective field-goal percentage, but falls slightly behind Connecticut and Indiana because of rebounding and free throws.
The Fever’s surge in the last two weeks has been on the strength of defense, typically Indiana’s strength. Winning with defense is a little out of the ordinary for the Sun. Meanwhile, defense has been the undoing of Minnesota and Sacramento (still hurt by a number of games against Phoenix) as well as a weak spot for the Mercury. The West is definitely the more offensive conference right now.
The league’s old guard is struggling on offense, with Detroit, Los Angeles and San Antonio – all of them conference finalists a year ago – ranking at the bottom of the league. The Silver Stars figure to climb back quickly with Becky Hammon returning to the lineup, but the Sparks may continue to have a tough time scoring without Lisa Leslie. Los Angeles did put things together at the defensive end in Sunday’s blowout win over the Monarchs.
Pace (Possessions/40 Minutes)
Team Pace ------------------- Phoenix 81.2 Minnesota 79.4 Atlanta 78.4 Washington 76.4 Los Angeles 76.0 New York 76.0 AVERAGE 76.0 Detroit 74.6 Sacramento 74.6 chicago 74.1 Connecticut 73.7 San Antonio 73.4 Indiana 73.3 Seattle 73.0
This is probably the last week we’ll look at pace, as things are beginning to shake out quite a bit. The only real surprise is the Mystics playing at an above-average pace under new Head Coach Julie Plank.
For those of you who are curious, these are not the actual possessions tracked by the league and compiled by our good friend Paul Swanson. They’re calculated as POS = .96 * (FGA + (.44*FTA) – OR + TO).
Expected Wins Standings
Team Exp. W Team Exp. W ------------------- ------------------- Seattle 26.6 Connecticut 23.0 Phoenix 22.4 Washington 21.7 Minnesota 14.4 Indiana 20.7 Los Angeles 13.1 New York 19.0 Sacramento 10.5 Atlanta 15.5 San Antonio 6.6 Detroit 13.3 Chicago 9.9
As I noted earlier, the Storm has the league’s top point differential, with the Connecticut Sun just behind on the strength of a 30-point win over Chicago (which also has the Sky at the bottom of the East standings. It’s still early). The giant gap between Phoenix and Minnesota in the West is surprising. Don’t expect San Antonio to stay at the bottom of the league for long, however.
Player Tm Win% WARP ------------------------------------- Lauren Jackson SEA .830 2.4 Diana Taurasi PHO .805 2.1 Nicky Anosike MIN .760 1.7 Sancho Lyttle ATL .781 1.5 Alana Beard WAS .794 1.4 Katie Douglas IND .679 1.4 Cappie Pondexter PHO .648 1.4 Seimone Augustus MIN .723 1.4 Tamika Catchings IND .677 1.3 Charde Houston MIN .711 1.1
Reigning Player of the Week Lauren Jackson continues atop the league, and now is also the leader in per-minute winning percentage ahead of friend Diana Taurasi. The most interesting name to appear on the list this week might be Katie Douglas, who has an excellent .681 True Shooting Percentage so far this season. If Douglas stays hot from the perimeter, the Fever’s offense could be much improved. I liked how Lin Dunn was using Douglas to initiate the pick-and-roll with Tamika Catchings in the fourth quarter of yesterday’s win over Detroit.
DeWanna Bonner (0.6 WARP) is the leader in the clubhouse for Rookie of the Year. Some per-minute standouts who haven’t logged as heavy minutes include the Storm’s Janell Burse (.751, 0.6 WARP) and Connecticut’s Kiesha Brown (.679, 0.6 WARP). Lastly, Sue Bird (1.0 WARP) is lurking just outside the top 10 after a phenomenal weekend of basketball.