Could the Mercury's Offense Be Better Than 2009?
Itís hard to believe, but the Mercury is already through more than 1/3 of the 2014 WNBA season.
That is to say, with a record that matched the best 12-game start in franchise history (9-3), the sample size is large enough that comparing the teamís offense and defense to other notable seasons is now both fair and rational.
Amazingly, their offense this year has been comparable (and in some cases better) than 2009 Ė the teamís last championship season.
In 2009, the Mercury led the league in scoring at 92.8 points per game. As a team, they shot 46 percent from the field, 38.6 percent from the three-point line and averaged 18.4 assists. They turned the ball over an average of 14.4 times each game and shot the ball about 72 times per game.
Indeed, looking at the numbers, one could make a convincing case that this yearís offense is actually more efficient.
In 2014, Phoenix is again leading the league in points with 85.3 per game. They are shooting 49.8 percent from the field (higher than 2009), 36.4 percent from the three-point line and average 19.7 assists (higher than 2009). The Mercury turns the ball over about 13 times each game (less than 2009) and average 63 shot attempts per night (almost 10 fewer shots than 2009).
Admittedly, itís true that the Mercury played at a much higher pace in 2009 than they do this season; in terms of total points scored, the 2014 Mercury averages about seven fewer points per game than their 2009 squad.
Nevertheless, thatís not a very significant difference considering the 2009 team averaged about 10 more shot attempts each night.
Additionally, after their win over the Shock last Friday, it marked the seventh time in nine victories so far this season that they won by double-digits. For comparisons sake, Phoenix earned just six double-digit wins in all of 2013 and totaled 11 double-digit victories during the 2009 regular season.
So while the offense is certainly on par with 2009, the difference this season is the Mercuryís vastly improved defense. In 2009, they allowed a league-worst 89.1 points per game. This year, the Mercury defense allows 77.3 points per game Ė a staggering difference of 11.8 points Ė which ranks sixth-best in the league this season.
Because of their prolific offense and upgraded defense, the Mercury now owns a league-best scoring margin of +8.1. In fact, fifteen of the 17 championship teams in WNBA history owned the largest scoring differential in that respective regular season.
Itís impossible to predict where the final 22 games will take the Mercury, but itís clear that Sandy Brondelloís balanced philosophy has inspired confidence throughout the entire team.