We’re almost a third of the way through the WNBA season, hard as that may be to believe, with most teams having played about 10 games. That makes this a good time for a check of the numbers. As always, check out the Statistical Analysis Primer for more on how they’re calculated and what they mean.
Team ORating---------------------Indiana 106.7Los Angeles 104.6Seattle 104.3Phoenix 102.8Sacramento 98.9Connecticut 97.7New York 97.4Chicago 97.1Minnesota 96.8Detroit 96.5San Antonio 95.8Washington 92.8Houston 88.7
The Fever continues to lead the league in offense, a big surprise from a team that ranked near the bottom last season. Last year’s leading offense, Phoenix, has not been as strong this year, while Connecticut has fallen way off with the loss of Taj McWilliams-Franklin and slow starts from holdover players. New York has slid as the three-pointers that went in at an unsustainable clip early in the season have started going out. I was surprised to see San Antonio’s offense so low given how well Becky Hammon has played this season.
Team DRating---------------------Detroit 89.7Sacramento 89.9Indiana 91.7New York 96.2San Antonio 96.3Phoenix 98.2Connecticut 98.8Chicago 98.8Seattle 101.3Los Angeles 101.8Minnesota 105.5Houston 107.9
Detroit and Sacramento have had dominant defenses for years, and nothing has changed. Connecticut has taken an even bigger hit on defense after ranking No. 2 a year ago. That’s not a surprise – Margo Dydek has struggled this year with her back and is never mobile in the best of circumstances, and Erika De Souza hasn’t been able to pick up for Dydek after a fast start.
Bet you’re suprised to see how good Phoenix is on defense.
If you’re looking for the reason the Storm has been inconsistent, you probably need to start at the defensive end of the floor, where Seattle is significantly below average. Here’s how the Storm defense has rated compared to league average under Anne Donovan:
2003: +0.3 (6/14)
2004: +2.2 (2/13)
2005: +0.1 (5/13)
2006: -0.9 (8/14)
2007: -2.9 (10/13)
The championship season was easily the best the Storm has been on defense, and the loss of players like Tully Bevilaqua, Adia Barnes, Sheri Sam and Kamila Vodichkova was felt the next season. Last year saw another slide, but this year the defense has been much worse in the early going.
If you go by point differential and expected wins, here’s what the standings would look like in each conference (wins projected to 34 games):
WEST ExpW EAST ExpW------------------ ------------------Sacramento 25.1 Indiana 28.8Phoenix 20.0 Detroit 23.5Los Angeles 18.6 New York 17.6Seattle 17.9 Chicago 15.5San Antonio 16.3 Connecticut 15.4Minnesota 11.6 Washington 9.9Houston 1.9
While the East has, at worst, two of the best three teams in the league, there isn’t a lot of depth to the conference until or unless the Sun gets going. Barring that, it looks like an Indy-Detroit showdown in the Eastern Conference Finals. The West is significantly more interesting.
At the individual level, I also took a quick look at the PER leaders in the league:
Player Tm PER--------------------Jackson SEA 35.9Catchings IND 31.9Taurasi PHO 27.6Brunson SAC 26.1Augustus MIN 25.9
Yeah, LJ is awesome. Rebekkah Brunson is off to a great start and should be an All-Star reserve if there’s any justice.