With the regular season over, let’s take a look at how teams rank in some statistical categories.
The blue bar represents the points a team averaged per 100 possessions and the red bar represents the points given up per 100 possessions. The difference between them is the net rating and teams were placed in order of offensive rating.
The Washington Mystics finished the regular season with three more wins than any other team and it is easy to see why as their offense was more than 11 points better per 100 possessions than any other team in the league, only around half a point less than the gap between the second best offense and the worst offense. While their defense is only in the middle of the pack, that offense will give the other teams in the playoffs plenty to worry about, especially over the course of a series. The top five seeds in the playoffs also have the league’s five most efficient offenses. Chicago had the second best offense, but defense could be a concern in a one game playoff situation as they were the only playoff team to have a worse defense than one of the non-playoff teams though Atlanta finds no comfort in that fact after scoring more than 4 points less than any other team per 100 possessions. The strong defenses are all very close together in efficiency, but it is no surprise to see Bill Laimbeer and Las Vegas at the top of the list while his former team New York languished at the bottom of the rankings.
Changes from 2018:
A lot has been made of the decrease in offense all year around and with the regular season done, the final numbers continue to show that trend. The blue bars are the change in offensive rating with a positive number meaning an improvement from last year. The red bars show the change in defensive rating with a negative number meaning an improvement from last year. The green bar is the change in net rating with a positive number meaning an overall improvement from last year and teams are ranked in order of their improvement in that category.
Only two teams ending up improving on their offensive efficiency from a year ago as Washington did so impressively and Indiana went from the league’s worst offense to one in the middle of the pack while tying for the biggest improvement in wins this year. Unsurprisingly, that led to every team except for Atlanta improving on defense and the Dream’s decline in both categories gave them the largest overall decline as they also had the biggest drop in wins from last season. The other two teams to also win seven more games than last season had the two biggest improvements on defense. Las Vegas improved to be the best defense overall, but Chicago’s improvement is also big news as they were coming off a season of having the worst defense, but no longer have to rely completely on their offense to win games.
Separating rebounding into two categories is more useful for examining how teams rebound, especially given that different teams have different strategies for offensive rebounding. The x-axis represents the percentage of its own misses that a team rebounds and the y-axis represents the amount of the other team’s misses that a team rebounds.
Connecticut is one of the elite rebounding teams regardless of what end being looked at, ranking first on the offensive end narrowly second on the defensive end. Las Vegas is also a solid offensive rebounding team, but their prowess on the other end in limiting second chances for their opponents likely contributes to their stingy defense. Phoenix is the second worst team at securing defensive rebounds, but are even less effective on the other end, grabbing the lowest percentage of their own misses by a bigger margin compared to the next worst team than the gap between the second worst team and the best. Chicago is that next team, but their lack of second chance opportunities did not slow down the league’s second most efficient offense.
Phoenix already had a lowest offensive rebounding percentage last season, but managed to drop nearly 2 percentage points in that category for this year. Atlanta and Dallas also experienced declines in both categories while Washington and Las Vegas were the only teams to improve at both ends. Los Angeles had the biggest improvement in offensive rebounding, which could be the result of their coaching change creating new philosophies at that end. Chicago’s improvement in defensive rebounding was the biggest, no longer making them the worst in the league, and likely helped their overall defensive improvement by reducing the number of second chances available to their opponents.
Home vs. Road:
The blue bars show the difference between home offensive efficiency and road offensive efficiency and a positive number means that the team plays better offensively at home. The red bars show the difference between home defensive efficiency and road defensive efficiency and a negative number means that the team plays better defense at home. The green bar shows the difference in net rating with a positive number meaning better overall efficiency at home. Teams are in order of the largest improvement in net rating when playing at home.
Teams are generally expected to perform better at home than on the road and that proved to be the case as every team other than New York won more games at home. In net rating, they were only marginally better on the road as they played better offensively at home, but worse defensively. Only Phoenix also played worse at home defensively, but that was offset by having the third largest improvement in offense on their own court. Atlanta was the only team to play worse offensively at home, but their defense was better at home by the third largest margin so they still played better overall there, but they and the Liberty were the only teams with negative net ratings on their own courts. Washington outscored teams by nearly 22 points per 100 possessions at home and had a much lower margin on the road, but still managed to be one of two teams with a positive net rating on the road. The other team was Las Vegas, something that could make them a tough opponent in a playoff series. A potential Storm-Sparks matchup in the playoffs would be intriguing as Seattle played the best road defense in the league while Los Angeles played the best home defense by a substantial margin.