Comparing and ranking offenses by points per game can be deceiving because different teams play at different speeds. Offensive Efficiency takes the pace at which teams play out of the equation by showing us how many points a team scores per 100 possessions. So even though the Los Angeles Sparks scored a WNBA-high 76.6 points per game in 2002, the Charlotte Sting was actually more efficient with its offensive possessions scoring 105.9 points per 100 possessions compared to 103.1 for the Sparks.
Comparing and ranking defenses by points allowed per game can be deceiving because different teams play at different speeds. Defensive Efficiency takes the pace at which teams play out of the equation by showing us how many points a team allows per 100 possessions. So even though the Los Angeles Sparks allowed the 11th most points in the league last season at 69.8 points per game, they were actually the second most efficient defensive team allowing just 94.0 points per 100 possessions.
Possessions per 40 Minutes
Different teams play at different speeds. Some look to run-and-gun at every opportunity, while others prefer to set up the half-court offense. “Possessions per 40 minutes” shows which teams are playing at a faster pace than others. A possession is any offensive play that ends in a made basket or free throw, a defensive rebound, a turnover or a steal. An offensive rebound is considered to be the start of a new “play” but a continuation of the same possession in that possession of the ball never changed hands. Teams are ranked from fastest to slowest, so the Los Angeles Sparks, at 73.5 possessions per 40 minutes, played at the fastest pace of any team last season while the Cleveland Rockers at 65.3 played at the slowest.
Age of 2002 WNBA Teams (Weighed By Minutes Played)
There are two ways to determine the “age” of a team. The first is to merely add the ages of all of the players on the roster and divide by the total number of players. But this method can be misleading because it treats the 24-year-old who logs 1000 minutes a year the same as a 37-year-old who never gets off the bench. To correct for this, the average age used in a number of the 2003 Team Draft Overviews is weighed for minutes played.
To illustrate the difference, without getting into too much of the actual math, let’s take a look at the 2002 Utah Starzz. Thirteen different players suited up for Utah last season. Averaging their ages the old-fashioned way would give us an average age of 26.2 years. But eight of the 13 players played less than 270 minutes each, and each of those eight were under 26 years of age. Utah’s starting five, Adrienne Goodson (35), Jennifer Azzi (33), Natalie Williams (31), Margo Dydek (28), and Marie Ferdinand (23) played 5201 of the team’s 6450 minutes or 80.6 percent.
When we weigh the ages of the Starzz players based on their actual minutes on the floor, they average out to 29.0. It’s a little more complicated but it gives us a better idea of the age of the players that are actually on the floor impacting the outcome of games.