Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A First Look at WNBA Numbers

Though the Storm is more than a tenth of the way through the 2008 season, it's still very early. Nothing shows that more than the fact that 10 days into the season the Minnesota Lynx is still sitting on one game played. Still, it's never too early to at least glance at the advanced statistics.

In terms of Offensive Rating, the surprising 3-0 Connecticut Sun laps the rest of the league.

Team       ORating
Connecticut 114.8
Los Angeles 109.4
Minnesota 106.6
Phoenix 102.1
San Antonio 101.1
Chicago 100.3
Detroit 99.0
Seattle 98.8
Sacramento 90.6
New York 90.2
Indiana 89.7
Houston 85.2
Atlanta 84.0
Washington 83.8
Talk about a disparity between the haves and the have-nots - look at that gap between the Storm and the Monarchs, bridged only by league average. That San Antonio's offense has played so well early despite some subpar shooting from Becky Hammon and two games without Ann Wauters should make the rest of the WNBA afraid. Very afraid.

Team       DRating
Indiana 83.8
Connecticut 84.9
Minnesota 86.7
Los Angeles 90.5
Detroit 91.3
New York 93.7
Chicago 94.3
Washington 95.0
San Antonio 95.9
Seattle 98.2
Houston 100.9
Sacramento 102.9
Phoenix 107.0
Atlanta 114.3
Definitely a skewed distribution in terms of Defensive Rating; nine of the 14 teams in the league are above-average, in no small part because the Dream's defense has been a nightmare. (Sorry, bad pun.) Phoenix's defense also has to be a major concern - weren't the Mercury supposed to be better at that end with traditional post players? Don't look for Connecticut and Minnesota to maintain their lofty defensive perches, but the Fever might easily lead the league in Defensive Rating wire to wire.

Too early for Pythagorean records, at least as long as the Sun is projected to win more than 34 games and Atlanta to lose more than 34. Moving ahead, here are your early leaders in PER, including some surprising names.

Player              Tm   PER
Charde Houston MIN 43.1
Sidney Spencer LAS 37.7
Katie Douglas IND 34.7
Sophia Young SAS 34.4
Lisa Leslie LAS 33.9
Candace Parker LAS 32.9
Lindsay Whalen CON 31.2
Nicky Anosike MIN 30.9
Candice Dupree CHI 30.2
Plenette Pierson DET 29.2
I don't count on Houston, Spencer and Anosike staying up there with more minutes, but Pierson's fast start might not be a fluke. Bill Laimbeer ought to get her more time so the Shock gets off to better starts.


sheila said...

Hey Kevin,

I'm not much of a stats geek, but one of the stats you show sometimes is "expected wins". Can you explain that one for us.


Kevin Pelton said...

Sure. I use the terms "Expected Wins" and "Pythagorean Wins" synonymously. The general theory is that there's a consistent relationship between a team's point differential and its record. Because differential isn't as highly influenced by the outcome of close games, it tends to be a better indicator of a team's underlying ability, which is why it's useful to look at Expected Wins.

Specifically, historically each point of differential is worth a little over one win over the course of the WNBA season. You can use that relationship to calculate Expected Wins.

I'll probably get them in next week when everybody's had at least a few games.

petrel said...

Kevin, thanks for providing those numbers. The numbers tell us a lot about what's going on in the lead, and confirm the Dream's defensive woes.