With the regular season over, let’s take a look at the final team stats in a variety of categories before the playoffs.
The blue bars represent points scored per 100 possessions and the orange bars represent points given up per 100 possessions. The net rating is the difference between the two. Teams are sorted by offensive rating.
Las Vegas had the best offense before the Olympic break and that did not change after it, but there was a change in leader in net rating as Connecticut improved their offensive efficiency while becoming even stingier on defense to finish more than 4 points per 100 possessions better in that metric. Phoenix also improved in both categories, changing from a negative net rating to a positive. Seattle declined in both as their place in the standings also dropped. Chicago’s offensive efficiency improved, but their defensive also slid after the break. Indiana’s defense ended up being the worst by some margin while Los Angeles actually improved their moribund offense and got even tougher on defense, but still fell short of the playoffs.
The x-axis represents the percentage of a team’s own misses that it grabs while the y-axis represents the percentage of its opponent’s misses that a team grabs. Splitting rebounding into two categories and using percentage instead of raw numbers due to the difference in shooting percentages involved can provide different insight than traditional methods. In this season, Connecticut is a fantastic rebounding team regardless of the methodology with a lead on both ends of the court. Splitting offensive and defensive rebounding does show that Las Vegas does clean up their opponent’s misses while not pursuing their own misses as much, which may represent a strategic decision. Regardless of how counting is done, Los Angeles ended up dead last in both categories and their overall defensive efficiency is pretty impressive given how many extra possessions that they handed their opponents by not rebounding. Dallas and Indiana were pretty aggressive with offensive rebounding, but were more in the middle of the pack on the defensive end.
Changes from 2020:
The blue bar represents change in offensive rating with a positive representing improvement. The orange bar represents change in defensive rating with a negative indicating improvement. The difference is the gray bar, representing change in net rating with a positive meaning improvement. Teams are sorted by improvement in net rating. There was no surprise with the top two teams. Connecticut had the second largest improvement on offense and the best improvement on defense to become the top seed after finishing in the middle of the pack last season. New York had a marked offensive improvement and it moved them from the worst team in the league to the last playoff spot. Los Angeles had their offense turn into the worst in the league, which helped precipitate their fall down the standings. Seattle had decreases in both categories, but that was falling from the top marks in both categories last year. Washington was the only other team to have worse defensive efficiency as teams generally saw improvement on defense and a decline in offensive efficiency with exactly half the league improving net rating.
There were notable changes in other categories as well. Connecticut and Dallas made big strides in rebounding on both ends while Seattle and Minnesota grabbed more defensive rebounds, but less offensive rebounds. While Los Angeles was already at the bottom of the league in offensive rebounding, their defensive rebounding went from above average to the bottom. Atlanta had an impressive reduction in turnover percentage while also improving the rate at which they turned their opponents over to rank second in both categories. Connecticut and Dallas were the only two teams to turn it over at a higher rate. Los Angeles already was the best at turning their opponents over, but increased that margin further. Only Washington and Minnesota played at a faster pace this season with Phoenix and Connecticut seeing their pace drop by over 4 possessions.
Home vs. Road:
Much was made of the wubble home-road splits given that all of the games were at a neutral site. Home court advantage returned this season with the home team having a 103-89 record in the regular season. Atlanta and Dallas had the same records home and away. Phoenix and Chicago were the only two teams with worse home records and they happen to be hosting the first two playoff games while trying to avoid upsets. Connecticut, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Washington all had four more wins at home than on the road. Phoenix’s biggest difference at home was offensive efficiency as they had the league’s strongest road offense, but Chicago’s defended at elite efficiency on the road. Even though Dallas had the same record, they had significantly better efficiency on the road. Washington had the largest net rating increase at home because of their poor defense on the road, a problem that also affected Indiana. Connecticut was by no means poor on the road, but was even better at home while Minnesota defended particularly well at home and Las Vegas had the largest positive difference in offensive efficiency at home. New York and Seattle had better offensive efficiency at home, but that was offset on the defensive end. Phoenix rebounded less at home, but were far from the only team to do so with Washington, Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle in that boat. New York was a much better defensive rebounding team at home even though they crashed the boards less effectively at the offensive end and also took care of the ball better.