With the different types of stats made available now, there are more ways to try to dissect player performance than ever before. Let’s take a look at several non-traditional stats and which players lead in those categories. We included players who played in more than half of the regular season and averaged at least 5 minutes per game.
Usage measures the percentage of a team’s possessions that a player terminates when she is on the court and there were 10 players who did so for at least a quarter of the possessions when they were on the floor. It is no surprise that Tina Charles leads this category by a wide margin as the Mystics needed her to do a lot on the offensive end this season. Myisha Hines-Allen did also make the list, but she did miss nearly half of the season. Arike Ogunbowale was also high this list as expected with Marina Mabrey also being active in a variety of spots in the rotation. Seattle was expected to be primarily a two-threat offense and that was apparent with Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd checking in at third and fourth. One of the surprises was a lack of low-minutes players sneaking on to this list since this measure does not bias against playing time and in fact often highlights players who carry the load by playing minutes without their team’s starters. Crystal Bradford ranks the highest among players who played less than half of the game on average, using 21.6% of Atlanta’s possessions and Dana Evans was the leader for those playing less than a quarter of the game on average, terminating 20.9% of possessions while on the court.
Effective Field Goal Percentage:
Effective field goal percentage awards a bonus to three-pointers made so that it is easier to compare players across all positions and not just have those who shoot closer to the basket lead field goal percentage. The effect is pretty clear as Sylvia Fowles leads in this category as she would in the traditional format while Sami Whitcomb gets a boost from all the shots that she makes from distance. Kiah Stokes checks in at fourth despite not shooting very much when she plays. While post players still dominate the list, there is a good spread among different positions and there is solid representation from players who do not play that large a percentage of available minutes with 17 players overall achieving a mark above 55%.
Rebounding percentage measures the amount of available rebounds that a player grabs when she is on the floor, which helps measure the rebounding effectiveness of players who play less minutes. Splitting it into offensive and defensive categories removes any penalty from players on teams that strategically do not pursue offensive rebounds as aggressively. 17 players grabbed at least 8% of their own team’s misses while on the court and 16 players grabbed at least 20% of their opponent’s misses while playing. Teaira McCowan had a healthy lead on the offensive end followed by a sister act in Brionna and Stephanie Jones. Jonquel Jones had a clear lead on the defensive end and was the only Connecticut player even with the Sun being the team leader in the category. Chicago may have been on the lower end of teams in defensive rebounding, but it would be hard to blame Candace Parker’s work on that end. With the Sparks being terrible at both ends, Lauren Cox appearing on the defensive list may show that she has value in changing that in the future. Splitting the categories has a clear benefit as only four players appear on both lists in Teaira McCowan, Jonquel Jones, Brianna Turner, and Kiah Stokes.
Lexie Brown launched a whopping 86.8% of her field goal attempts from behind the arc, followed by some other players known for making that their primary method of scoring as Leilani Mitchell did so 78.7% of her shots just ahead of Shekinna Stricklen at 77.6%. Danielle Robinson scoring 24.5% of her points on the fast break is not that surprising, but Sue Bird checking in at 22.4% might not have been expected. The least surprising stat is that Courtney Williams scored nearly half of her points from mid-range at 48.4%. There was some positional variety among players who scored over 30% of their points from the free throw line with Tiffany Mitchell, Natalie Achonwa, Jordin Canada, and Park Ji-Su reaching that mark. Layshia Clarendon got no assist on a made field goal three-quarters of the time followed by Erica Wheeler at 73.1% as guards dominated this category as would be expected.
33 different 5-player lineups played together for at least 64 minutes this season. Las Vegas is known for their strong bench and having a variety of rotation options. The top lineup in net rating was their Gray-Williams-Young-Hamby-Wilson group at 34.6 over 78 minutes fueled by an impressive defensive rating. New York had player availability issues all season long, but they can take heart in their Ionescu-Whitcomb-Laney-Allen-Howard lineup checking in at second with a 24.9 net rating despite only being fielded in 8 games, having the highest offensive rating. Minnesota also benefited from being able to field a Clarendon-McBride-Carleton-Collier-Fowles lineup followed by Seattle’s lineup when Stephanie Talbot joined the group of Bird-Loyd-Stewart-Russell. No lineup played longer together than Connecticut’s starting lineup, but there was no drop-off when Natisha Hiedeman replaced Jasmine Thomas with the rest of that group.
Besides measuring the effectiveness of various lineups, focusing individually on how a team played with a player on or off the court can provide additional insight. The player whose team had the highest offensive rating when she was on the court may be a surprise since she is not known for offense, but Jackie Young leads by nearly a whole point over Jonquel Jones. Dearica Hamby checks in at third having played just under 55% of her team’s minutes followed by Breanna Stewart. In terms of the largest difference, Connecticut had a great offense when Jonquel Jones was on the court, but was nearly 20 points per 100 possessions worse when she off the court. The next highest disparity came in the 20% or so of Phoenix’s minutes that Skylar Diggins-Smith did not play. While those two along with Breanna Stewart in fourth place are no surprise, Indiana’s offense was at least functional with Teaira McCowan on the floor, but was absolutely dreadful with her off the court, only surpassed by the Fever’s offense without Kelsey Mitchell. Among players playing below what would be considered starter’s minutes, Allie Quigley and Isabelle Harrison were notable in their team’s offense being more efficient with them on the court.
Having the strongest defense overall, it is no surprise that many of the players with the best on-court defensive ratings come from Connecticut, but it is a surprise that Kaila Charles was the one at the top of the list. Liz Cambage is the first non-Sun player on the list followed by Bella Alarie who leads the list in terms of biggest on-off difference as Dallas played great defense during the minutes she played while being much worse the rest of the time. There are some other surprising names on that list as she is followed by Kylee Shook, Lexie Brown, Stefanie Dolson, and Emma Cannon before Brittney Sykes, the first player listed who played at least half of available minutes. In the case of Cannon, the Fever were especially terrible in the minutes that she was not on the court after she joined the roster, only surpassed by how bad their defense was when Tiffany Mitchell was on the bench.
Combining into a net rating, Connecticut was outscoring their opponent by 20 points per 100 possessions with Jonquel Jones on the court. Breanna Stewart and Layshia Clarendon helped break the Sun and Aces monopoly on the top of the list since those two teams had the best net rating overall. Indiana still had a very negative net rating with Kelsey Mitchell on the floor, but without her were outscored by nearly 26 points per 100 possessions. In terms of difference, Skylar Diggins-Smith had the largest as Phoenix outscored opponents by 7.6 points per 100 possessions with her on the court, but were outscored by nearly 17 points per 100 possessions without her. Jonquel Jones was next on that list, but Connecticut nearly played opponents even during her minutes on the bench. Breanna Stewart was next on the list followed by some players who would generally not be considered their team’s key players in Jackie Young, Brianna Turner, and Jasmine Thomas. Making the list at a lower level of minutes played is Isabelle Harrison as Dallas outscored their opponents by a reasonable margin with her on the court, but were outscored by a significant margin without her.