2005 Top 10 Performing Combinations (with >5 minutes of play)
Francesca Zara, who is the only player to play the whole season and still offer up a negative individual +/- on-court rating is in 50% of the best lineups with more than 5 minutes of floor time over the course of the season. I ignore the combinations with less than 5 minutes because they are so rarely seen that it is hard to accurately accept their values weighed across the whole league. This limits the 140 season combinations to 57 different combinations. Combinations that played at least 5 minutes most likely faced a number of teams. One lineup was only seen for the first few games of the season as it included both Ashley Battle and Mandissa Stevenson, both of whom were cut by the time Suzie Batkovic arrived. Because these combinations still don't see the whole league, I also want to look at those that saw the most time, and that would be the combinations with at least 10 minutes of floor time.
2005 Top 10 Performing Combinations(with >10 minutes of play)
Three of the previous combinations remain on the list when the sample is culled down to the 32 combinations with at least 10 minutes of floor time. Zara only shows up four times here and three of them are paired with Bird and Jackson. All of these combinations include LJ and all but one include Sue Bird, further indicating their importance to the success of the team. One interesting point is how much better the starters played with Vodo than they did with Castro or Thompson. The Thompson combination with the starters makes the top 10 but came in more than 18 points less per 40 minutes played. The Castro combination comes in at number 12 and offers almost 26 less points per 40 minutes. The best part is the depth of the team that this data represents. With Sue and LJ in the lineup you could use a variety of the options at the other positions and still dominate the competition over the course of the season.
When you cull the list even further to only combinations with 20 minutes of floor time, you end up with only 14 combinations and only seven of those are positive +/- combinations.
Top Combinations (with >20 Minutes)
Zara shows up in 5 of the 14 combinations, but only one of the positve combinations. Interestingly the Wright led combination shows up in the 14 as well with Burse instead of Batkovic at a startling -5.34 per 40 minutes of floor time.
This weekend I will take a look at the worst combinations from the 2005 season.