After an unusual regular season, let’s look at how teams fared in a variety of statistical categories, especially compared to last season, which had more games and was not played at a single site.
Teams are sorted by their offensive efficiency with the green bar representing offensive rating and the blue bar representing defensive rating. The net rating is the difference between them. Seattle had the best figures in both categories while Las Vegas, which won the tiebreaker for the top seed, was second in both. The other two teams that earned a bye have the third place marks with Minnesota having the stronger offense and Los Angeles possessing the stronger defense. The four non-playoff teams had the four worst defenses while New York’s offense was especially poor.
Changes from 2019:
The green column represents the change in offensive rating from last season with a positive number indicating improvement. The blue column represents the change in defensive rating from last season and a negative number represents improvement. The yellow bar combines them and shows the change in net rating and a positive number shows improvement. Of note, Seattle was the only team to have an improved defense. They also had the largest improvement in offensive rating to have a substantial overall improvement. After Washington had such an impressive offense last season, it is no surprise to see the impact of missing players on their ratings this year. For the teams with new coaches, Indiana improved on offense, but that was offset by the worst change on defense while New York’s defense was a little worse than last year’s league worst, but saw a bigger drop on the offensive end. Also of note, offensive rebounding generally decreased this season and pace increased.
The x-axis represents the percentage of available defensive rebounds a team grabbed and the y-axis represented the percentage of available offensive rebounds that a team grabbed. It is no surprise that Las Vegas had the best defensive rebounding again and the two teams behind them were the same as last year as well with Washington pushing ahead of Connecticut this year. Phoenix had the poorest defensive rebounding, which they also struggled with last year, and Seattle’s overall defense is impressive given their rebounding. Minnesota had the best offensive rebounding just ahead of Connecticut, which led last year.
Home Team Designation:
Much had been made of the apparent difference in performance for the team designated as the home team even though teams have all been playing in the same location. It only got more bizarre at the end of the season as the final record for home teams was 66-66. Las Vegas, Minnesota, Chicago, and Dallas had the same amount of wins regardless of the designated home team. Indiana had four more wins for their home games while Connecticut had four more wins when they were not the home team. Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington had slightly more wins as home teams while Phoenix and Atlanta had one more win as the away team and neither of New York’s wins came when they were the home team.
Diving into the differences in various statistical categories, there may not be an easy explanation. Atlanta had a better offense and defense at home and rebounded better, but still ended up winning one fewer game when they were the home team. They and Las Vegas play faster at home and turn the ball over more often, a problem that also plagued Connecticut in their games as the home team. Las Vegas played substantially worse on offense in home games, but they were incredibly stingy on defense, nearly allowing 10 fewer points per 100 possessions while also rebounding better on both ends, all for a net total of the same wins at home as away. Indiana was 8 points better on offense and 2 points better on defense per 100 possessions as the home team, which certainly explains why they won five games as the home team while only one away. Connecticut’s offensive rating was only marginally worse at home, but their defense played much worse as the home team, explaining their discrepancy. Seattle had the second biggest improvement on both offense and defense as the home team. The most interesting data will be if the final three series go four or five games as there will be more data between the same teams and same players. The chart below shows net rating changes for home teams sorted by biggest improvement at home. The green bar represents offense and positive means better at home while blue represents defense and negative means better at home with the yellow being the combined total representing the difference in net rating as the home team.
Las Vegas has been singled out for their decision to not shoot from distance and their final totals for the season have them shooting about five times as many shots from inside the arc as beyond it. Atlanta was the next most likely to attempt field goals from two-point range doing so slightly more than three times more than from distance. New York’s new offensive philosophy was evident as they shot 41.5% of their attempts from beyond the arc, with Dallas behind them at 38.9%. That philosophy becomes even more clear when you look at where their points come from as they only have a league low 8% of their points come from mid-range two-pointers. Interestingly, despite the difference in opinion on three-pointers, Las Vegas and New York lead the league in percentage of points scored at the free throw line at over 21% while Chicago gets 86% of their points from field goals. Indiana does not get many points from turnovers or the fast break, lagging greatly in both categories compared to the rest of the league. A rather unusual statistic is Phoenix’s assist percentage as they lead the league in assisted two-pointers, but have the lowest percentage of their three-pointers assisted. Las Vegas has the third best percentage in both categories. Dallas, Atlanta, and, by a slim margin, New York scored more than half of their two-pointers without an assist.