The numbers are a day late today, but they still go only through Sunday (and do not include this morning’s Silver Stars win in L.A.) I want to talk a little about the WNBA’s parity (and a few things that quantify it), but for now we start with the Offensive and Defensive Rating rankings.
Team ORtg Team DRtg ------------------- ------------------- Phoenix 108.9 Indiana 92.8 Minnesota 103.4 Connecticut 96.2 Seattle 101.6 Los Angeles 96.7 Indiana 101.4 Atlanta 97.5 Chicago 99.8 Seattle 97.7 AVERAGE 99.8 New York 97.9 Atlanta 99.6 Washington 98.9 Washington 99.1 AVERAGE 99.8 Connecticut 98.9 San Antonio 99.9 Sacramento 98.5 Detroit 101.0 San Antonio 98.3 Minnesota 103.2 Detroit 96.9 Sacramento 103.5 New York 95.4 Phoenix 105.0 Los Angeles 92.1 Chicago 105.4
The interesting case this week is that of the Los Angeles Sparks, who remain dead last in the WNBA in Offensive Rating but have moved up to third in Defensive Rating after Saturday’s slugfest with the Sacramento Monarchs. The per-possession ratings have shown for the last year-plus that, for all their offensive talent, the Sparks are better at stopping opponents than scoring. Still, this discrepancy is pretty remarkable.
EXPECTED WINS STANDINGS
Team Exp. W Team Exp. W ------------------- ------------------- Phoenix 20.9 Indiana 22.9 Seattle 20.9 Connecticut 19.5 Minnesota 16.3 Atlanta 18.8 San Antonio 15.6 Washington 18.1 Los Angeles 14.3 New York 15.4 Sacramento 11.9 Detroit 13.7 Chicago 11.9
I feel sometimes like nobody believes me when I talk about the parity in the WNBA this year. Fortunately, Brian Agler has my back. As he pointed out Saturday, if the right teams had won and lost, it was possible for only three teams (Phoenix, Indiana and the Storm) to end the day above .500. Even the seeming extremes of the league – the aforementioned three teams and Sacramento at the bottom – come back to the pack when we look at point differential.
We’re in a league where the Atlanta Dream beat the Mercury by 30 points last week, which, incidentally, is why Phoenix is now decimal points ahead of the West in the Expected Wins standings. So far this season, there have been 13 overtime games; last year there were 17 all year. Similar story with games decided by three points or fewer – 25 last year, 24 this season already. The Storm has played a ton of close games all in a row, and it shouldn’t be a surprise anymore. The league is that even.
Differential also suggests the Sparks and Silver Stars have a pretty good shot at surpassing the Lynx with their additions. In the East, the Liberty and Sky retain their anomalous flip-flopped positions.
Player Tm Win% WARP ------------------------------------- Nicky Anosike MIN .753 5.1 Diana Taurasi PHO .762 5.0 Tamika Catchings IND .743 4.9 Lauren Jackson SEA .752 4.7 Becky Hammon SAS .746 4.6 Jia Perkins CHI .698 4.2 Shameka Christon NYL .680 3.7 Cappie Pondexter PHO .622 3.6 Sancho Lyttle ATL .663 3.4 Charde Houston MIN .665 3.0
It looks like we’ve got a very interesting race for MVP shaping up down the stretch. Last week, Q handicapped the field and made Nicky Anosike his favorite, which surprised even me. However, her net plus-minus numbers back up what her Wins Above Replacement Player also show in terms of her indispensibility tot he Lynx. Now, things have tightened up and we have five players separated by a half a win. Any of them – or Cappie Pondexter, who still comes out low by my numbers – have the chance to seize control and become the favorite with a strong finish to the season.