(Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
You can’t really call it the midway point. The WNBA put the season on hold in late July, as Olympic competition was set to tip off,. Play resumes later this week. At the break, teams played roughly 75 percent of their 34-game schedule. Despite the disparity in games, the time is perfect to get a tempo-free look at the league. All numbers are courtesy of Basketball State:
1) Los Angeles (21-3, +16 efficiency margin)
2) Minnesota (21-4, +12)
3) New York (18-8, +3)
4) Chicago (12-12, +1)
5) Phoenix (10-14, -1)
6) Indiana (13-11, -2)
7) Atlanta (12-13, -2)
8) Washington (9-15, -2)
9) Seattle (9-15, -2)
10) Dallas (9-16, -4) 11) Connecticut (8-16, -8)
12) San Antonio (5-18, -9)
Analysis: Only four of the twelve league members had a positive efficiency margin. Good defense or bad offense? A little of both. No defense is forcing opponents into a turnover rate over 20 percent. The defenses are limiting all but three teams to under 50 percent effective field goal shooting. Chalk the defensive efficiencies to plain and simple shot contesting.
Defensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Los Angeles (92)
2) Minnesota (93)
3) New York (96)
To little surprise, this trio is at the forefront of championship conversations.
Offensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Los Angeles (108)
2) Minnesota (105)
3) Phoenix (103)
4) Chicago (103)
Where are the Liberty? Seventh in the league at 99. New York would entertain more offensive production, especially with consistent perimeter play. Regardless, coach Bill Laimbeer’s teams always pride themselves as being outstanding on the defensive end.
Caring for the ball: This is professional basketball, still it is impressive seeing the entire league under 17 percent in turnover rate. The leaders:
1) Chicago (13 percent)
2) Dallas (13.9)
3) Minnesota (14)
4) Atlanta (14)
Defensive Turnover Rate Leaders
1) Los Angeles (17 percent)
2) Indiana (16.9)
3) Minnesota (15.3)
Final observations: Dallas is not too far off the mark. They show a league-leading 39 percent offensive rebounding rate and the offensive efficiency is a better than average 101. The defense, though, is the difference. Their 50.6 percent eFG defensive mark is the poorest in the league. A 105 defensive efficiency ties them with Phoenix for worst in the league.
Phoenix, by the way, is the pacesetter in possessions, with 75 per outing. Most deliberate is Los Angeles at 69.7. That is over five possessions between the fastest and slowest-paced teams, making for a homogeneous group. Los Angeles is the only team under 70 possessions. Can’t argue with their results.
The Liberty lead with a 45.2 percent mark in eFG defense. That is the staple of their defensive success, as their defensive turnover rate is a modest 13 percent, the epitome of a team forcing you into bad shots and contesting virtually all shots.
What constitutes a WNBA contender, besides simply having a Tina Charles, Maya Moore or Candace Parker? Looking at Los Angeles, Minnesota and New York, you have teams that defend. Los Angeles and Minnesota are more efficient on the offensive end. All three care for the ball. The Liberty almost ensure that if you miss once, that’s it, get back on defense. New York is the pacesetter with an 82 percent defensive rebounding rate. Each of these teams can beat you in different ways, with the main constant being defense.