With the second season of the WNBA’s commitment to providing additional statistics complete, let’s take a look at how players stack up in some of the non-traditional measures. In order to be counted in these lists, players must have been on the court for 680 possessions, 20 per game that each team plays. For players who played for multiple team, the last team name is listed, but stats compiled for all teams are included.
Usage measures the percentage of her team’s possessions that the player terminates while she is on the court. It provides two separate measures that help us understand a team’s offense, both showing which players are stars that a team relies on heavily and also identifying players who come off the bench or play fewer possessions, but take shots while they are on the court, which would not show up as much in traditional counting stats. Players with a usage percentage of at least 23% are included on this list.
No single player may have been more critical to her team than Tina Charles this year and it showed on this list as she was the only player to exceed 30% usage and was the only Liberty player on the list. She is followed by two teammate duos as the young stars of the Storm and the Mercury’s veterans were leaned on offensively. Brittney Sykes pushed her way into the rookie of the year statistics as the season progressed and it was clear how she did so as she was given a larger and larger role over time. Unlike some other instances, the number of players appearing on this list with fewer minutes played was not particularly large as Monique Currie was asked to play a variety of roles on two different teams this season while Ivory Latta was the only player on the list to play less than 20 minutes per game. Skylar Diggins-Smith made the list as the only Wings player as she was on the court for more possessions than any other player in the league this season.
Effective Field Goal Percentage:
Effective field goal percentage helps nullify the advantage that post players and others who shoot closer to the basket have on players who shoot more of their shots from distance. Three point shots are given more value to account for the additional point that they provide. Players who have an effective field goal percentage above 55% are included on this list.
Adding points for three pointers did not change the leader in this category as Sylvia Fowles stayed on top without attempting a shot from behind the arc. Crystal Langhorne was behind her while almost exclusively operating from two point range. The first player with a reputation as a sniper checked in at third as Allie Quigley’s percentage clearly benefits from this adjustment. Stefanie Dolson and Nneka Ogwumike get additional credit from this system as they mix a comfort of operating in the paint with an ability to stretch the floor.
Free Throw Rate:
Free throw rate measures the number of free throws attempted as a percentage of field goals attempted. Players with at least 40% as many free throw attempts as field goal attempts are included on this list. Players who rank high on this list tend to be either post players or slashers.
Five players attempt at least half as many free throws as field goals. While Emma Cannon is a newcomer to the league, the other four are certainly no strangers to the list. Alyssa Thomas just under 50% last year, but the other three were above and all in the top five on that list. Shavonte Zellous, Karima Christmas-Kelly, and Brittney Griner all increased their percentages from 2016. While those at the top of the list had higher rates than last season, the number of players at 42% and over decreased as only 18 players were at that mark after 24 players hit that rate a year ago.
Rebound percentage statistics help isolate multiple factors, not just controlling for minutes on the court. Offensive and defensive rebounding are separate, which helps account for team philosophy and player roles. The basis of measurement is available rebounds, which mitigates the effect of different field goal percentages. Players who grabbed at least 20% of available rebounds on the defensive end made that list and players who grabbed at least 8% of available offensive rebounds made the other list.
Separate statistics are not needed to show that Jonquel Jones was dominant on the boards this season. She grabbed nearly a third of her opponent’s misses, more than five percentage points above any other player while also leading in the offensive category as she nearly doubled her defensive rebounding rate from last year with a big increase in minutes. The split better showcases Candace Parker’s rebounding as she was second on the defensive end, but not on the list for the offensive end where the Sparks were not among the league leaders, perhaps reflecting team philosophy. Other Mystics acquisitions deservedly had more fanfare, but this statistic shows another key move as Krystal Thomas was in the top three in both categories, one of nine players players on both lists as Tianna Hawkins also helped the Mystics rebound well. Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson are both in the top ten of total rebounds all time, so it was no surprise to see them as the other pair of teammates to appear on both lists.