Based on the ratings formulas from Dean Oliver that I talked about earlier, I ran the numbers for the whole league this season. This gives me a chance to take a look at the best offenses, defenses and the best teams of the season. The averages for the league let me see how individual teams compare the the rest of the league. We can also see if the numbers tell us anything interesting about the state of the league from a performance standpoint for 2005.
There are no big surprises here, though from the looks of this list, Detroit went to the wrong team for a trade intended to help their offense. Katie Smith is a great scorer, but Minnesota wasn't much more effective than Detroit at the offensive end of the floor in 2005.
|Offensive Rating||Compared to League|
The league is averaging an Offensive Rating of 97.13 or around 97 points scored per 100 possessions. In the middle of the pack offensively are Washington, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Connecticut, with little surprise, is the leader with New York, Seattle and Houston setting the offensive bar. Charlotte, Detroit and San Antonio take up the bar at the other end of the spectrum. There is a 13.33 point spread between Connecticut and Charlotte, leaving the best and the worst of the league, both in the eastern conference. As far as offense goes the teams were fairly evenly divided between the east and the west as far as 2005 was concerned.
There are few surprises here except to say that league needs to beef up its defense. Granted, Sacramento clearly skewed the statistics, but there are only four teams playing above average defense...that is a little scary.
|Compared to League|
With the exception of the Lynx, the top 8 defensive teams were all playoff teams. The Liberty were the only team at the bottom of the defensive pack to make the playoffs, and did so purely on their offense. The league average Defensive Rating works out to be 97.19 or holding your opponent to an average of 97 points per 100 possesions. Average defense for 2005 turned out to be the defense of Minnesota, Seattle, Los Angeles, Houston and Phoenix. Defensively, the Sacramento Monarchs are in a league of their own. Detroit, Indiana and Connecticut round out the best defensive teams in 2005. San Antonio sets the bar for the worst defense in the league with Charlotte, New York and Washington keeping them from being too lonely at the bottom.
Best Teams of 2005
Now we know who dominated each end of the floor in 2005. The real question, however, is who put it all together to produce the best floor game of the season. We can all guess who the top two teams are...we just saw them battle it out for the championship. Who else deserves a nod, and who needs the most work for 2006?
|Rating Differential||Compared to League|
What did it mean to be average in the WNBA in 2005? It meant you were the Phoenix Mercury or the Los Angeles Sparks. Clearly, however, it shows Phoenix's final breakdown as they are the only team with a positive differential that did not make the playoffs. Two teams, LA and Detroit, made the playoffs with negative differentials. The Monarchs, Sun and Fever represent the defensive stalwarts on the best of 2005. The Sun also represent the offensive standouts among 2005's best, joined by Seattle, New York and Houston.
The Storm and the Comets join the finals competitors among the top teams with Indiana and New York closing out the leaders. New York's offense kept them on top, while it was Indiana's defense that did it for them. San Antonio and Charlotte sit alone at the bottom, with Minnesota Washington and Detroit rounding out the worst teams of the year. Detroit is continuing its freefall after winning the championship two years ago. Perhaps they will fare better with Katie Smith (should she re-sign) and a healthy Swin Cash (we wish you the best Swin!).
What does it all mean?
Mostly it means that Charlotte and San Antonio better do more than look forward to allowing the expansion team of the Chicago Sky set the bar for the worst so they can climb the stack a little. They were both just plain bad this year, at both ends of the floor. They need to pick one end and build up some strength. Sacramento and Indiana have made the top of the pile by virtue of their outstanding defense. Seattle, New York and Houston got their through their offensive strengths. Connecticut is the ONLY team in the league showing true balance in 2005 and placing in the top 5 of both lists. They look to be the favorite in the east once again given their youth and balance. If Indiana adds some offense in the off season, or New York adds some defense, they could give the Suns a challenge. I look to Seattle and Phoenix to rise in the west based on their youth and for Sacramento and Houston to decline as their stars age. However, Seattle and Phoenix will need to make some defensive improvements to have any further success while I bet Tina, Sheryl, Ticha and Yo have another year or two in their tanks. Much remains to be determined for 2006, with the expansion draft tapping teams talent base, and additions or losses that may arise through the upcoming 2006 draft and free agency period. I look forward to what could be a very interesting off season.
It will take a few days, but I will tackle individual player offensive ratings for the 2004 and 2005 seasons to see if I can learn anything about the Storm's drop in offense this season.WNBA