With the long break this year, let’s take a look at various team stats from the first portion of the season and see if there can be any insights for the rest of the season.
The blue bars represent team’s offensive ratings and the orange bars represent team’s defensive ratings with teams sorted by offensive efficiency. With four teams having a gap between them and the rest of the league, they make up four of the top five on each end of the court. Dallas has the third most efficient offense, but their porous defense has hurt them despite having a positive net rating. Chicago’s defense has been the big concern in recent seasons, but they have the third most efficient defense and are trying to get their offense closer to the average. At the bottom of the standings, Indiana is the second worst on both ends of the court. Above them, Los Angeles has struggled mightily offensively while Atlanta’s concern is their defense. Seattle currently sits in the lead in the standings, but Las Vegas has superior efficiency ratings at this point.
Breaking rebounding into offensive and defensive percentages gives a better view of how teams are crashing the boards. The x-axis shows what percentage of its own misses that a team is rebounding while the y-axis shows what percentage of its opponent’s misses that a team is rebounding. Even with the split, the teams at the top and bottom are pretty clear. Connecticut is the leader in both categories with a lead of nearly three percentage points on the offensive end. Los Angeles is last at both ends, handing opponents lots of extra possessions by grabbing over three and a half percentage points less defensive rebounds than the next worst team. Strategy changes over the years mean that not every team is crashing the glass on the offensive end as much. Las Vegas is not rebounding many of their own misses, but is second in defensive rebounding.
Changes from 2020:
Teams are sorted by improvement in net rating, which is represented by the gray bar. The change in offensive rating is represented by the blue bar and the change in defensive rating is represented by the orange bar with a negative number in that category representing an improvement. The change with New York moving from the worst team in the league by some margin to one in the middle of the pack is clear here. Even though their offense is still not that potent, the improvement from last year’s dismal showing is clear. Three other teams have improved on both ends as Connecticut returned to contender level play while Dallas has had a smaller improvement in record so far. Atlanta still has the worst defense in the league, but did improve slightly from last season. No team had a larger defensive improvement than Chicago, but they also regressed nearly as much on the offensive end for minimal net benefit. Indiana was second in defensive improvement, but their offensive efficiency declined even more for a net negative effect. Los Angeles had the worst change with offense as the main culprit. Seattle and Phoenix also had their numbers fall in both categories, but Seattle continues to lead in the standings despite having the worst defensive change.
There have been some notable changes in other categories as well. Phoenix and Connecticut are playing at a slower pace, but with differing impacts on their place in the standings. Atlanta is taking much better care of basketball, but turning it over more often has not hurt Connecticut’s offense. Atlanta is also turning their opponents over more often, but that has not moved their defensive efficiency much while Chicago has improved in both categories. Los Angeles was already the league leader in the category, but has managed to force turnovers at an even higher rate. Seattle and Phoenix are forcing turnovers at a much lower rate. Minnesota and Seattle improved their defensive rebounding by the largest margins, but both also happen to have the largest decreases in offensive rebounding. Dallas had strong increases in both while New York saw decreases in both.