Note: WNBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Tuesday during the season, are the opinion of this writer and do not reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.
We are nearly two-thirds of the way through the 2018 WNBA season as 132 of this season’s 204 games (64.7%) are in the books. There are 21 games to be played before next weekend’s All-Star break, which will give teams a chance to take a quick breath before the sprint to the finish line begins.
Once play resumes after the All-Star festivities, there will be just 51 games to be played to determine which eight teams qualify for the playoffs and which teams will earn those all-important byes that are awarded to the top four seeds. As a reminder, the top two seeds get a double bye all the way to the Semifinals, while the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds get a single bye to the Second Round.
With crunch time of the season nearly upon us, this week we crunched the numbers to examine one key stat for each team so far this season.
1. Seattle Storm (16-6)
Last Week: 1 (1-1)
OffRtg: 107.9 (1); DefRtg: 99.1 (4); NetRtg: 8.8 (1)
Not only do the Storm lead the league in wins (16) and win percentage (0.727), they also lead all teams in games played at home (14) compared to just eight on the road. That means only three of their final 12 games will be played at KeyArena. So far this year, the Storm have a slightly higher win percentage on the road (.750) than they do at home (.714). Can they keep that up down the stretch?
2. Phoenix Mercury (15-8)
Last Week: 2 (1-2)
OffRtg: 104.5 (5); DefRtg: 100.9 (6); NetRtg: 3.6 (4)
Brittney Griner (20.7) and Diana Taurasi (20.0) are the highest-scoring duo in the WNBA as both rank in the top five in scoring. Griner ranks third in the league in field goals made (7.9 per game) and eighth in field goal percentage (54.7%). Taurasi has a commanding lead in 3-pointers made (3.4 per game) and ranks 11th in accuracy. Briann January ranks third in 3-point percentage at a scorching 47.3%.
3. Los Angeles Sparks (14-9)
Last Week: 5 (2-1)
OffRtg: 100.7 (6); DefRtg: 98.5 (3); NetRtg: 2.3 (6)
Candace Parker has posted two of the best all-around stat lines in league history over her last three games as the Sparks picked up wins in Seattle and Las Vegas. The Sparks lead the league in turnover margin as they commit the fewest turnovers in the league (12.8) and force the most from their opponents (15.8). The Sparks have three of the top six players in steals per game, led by league-leader Nneka Ogwumike at 1.7 per game.
4. Dallas Wings (12-9)
Last Week: 6 (2-1)
OffRtg: 105.9 (4); DefRtg: 99.1 (5); NetRtg: 6.8 (2)
The Wings are one of just two teams (along with Seattle) to rank in the top five in both offensive (4th) and defensive (5th) efficiency. No team takes (24.9) or makes (19.8) more free throws than the Wings, with Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith ranked second and third among individual players in free throw attempts per game, trailing only Las Vegas rookie A’ja Wilson.
5. Atlanta Dream (12-9)
Last Week: 8 (3-0)
OffRtg: 95.3 (11); DefRtg: 96.9 (1); NetRtg: -1.6 (8)
While offense has been a struggle for the Dream for much of this season – they rank 11th overall in offensive efficiency (95.3), 11th in overall field goal percentage (41.0%) and last in 3-point percentage (29.9%) – the past week has been a different story. During their four-game win streak, which dates back to July 8, the Dream ranks third in offensive efficiency (113.2), third in field goal percentage (48.0%) and fourth in 3-point percentage (37.0%). If this turnaround on offense can last, paired with the league-best defense, the Dream can be very dangerous.
6. Washington Mystics (13-9)
Last Week: 3 (1-2)
OffRtg: 106.4 (2); DefRtg: 103.1 (9); NetRtg: 3.3 (5)
The Mystics are tied with the Storm for the most 3-pointers made per game (8.2) and rank second to the Mercury in 3-point percentage (36.0%) despite not having a player ranked in the top 12 individual in 3-point accuracy (Tianna Hawkins lead the Mystics at 39.3%, which is tied for 13th in the league).
7. Connecticut Sun (12-10)
Last Week: 7 (2-1)
OffRtg: 106.3 (3); DefRtg: 101.2 (7); NetRtg: 5.1 (3)
The Sun lead the WNBA in offensive rebounds (11.0 per game, 30.8% OREB%) and convert those extra opportunities into a league-leading 15.1 second chance points per game. In addition to dominating the offensive glass, the Sun also have a commanding lead in bench scoring (31.2 per game). A perfect example of their outstanding depth was Sunday’s win over Minnesota as Morgan Tuck led six Sun players in double figures with 15 points off the bench.
8. Minnesota Lynx (12-10)
Last Week: 4 (1-2)
OffRtg: 99.2 (7); DefRtg: 97.4 (2); NetRtg: 1.8 (7)
The Lynx are an even 6-5 at home and on the road so far this season. The five home losses the Lynx have this season are more than they had in the last two seasons combined as they went 15-2 at home in both 2016 and 2017. Reigning league MVP Sylvia Fowles is the only player in the WNBA to average double-figure rebounds (11.9 per game) as she is on pace for a career-high in the category.
9. Las Vegas Aces (10-13)
Last Week: 9 (2-1)
OffRtg: 99.1 (8); DefRtg: 102.0 (8); NetRtg: -3.0 (9)
The Aces lead the WNBA in percentage of points scored on 2-point shots (64.7%) and rank second in percentage of points scored at the free throw line (22.4%). However, they rank last by a wide margin in percentage of points from 3-point shots with only 12.5% of their points coming from beyond the arc. The Aces are the only team in the WNBA to average fewer than five 3-pointers made per game (3.6), but it is not because they shoot a horrible percentage. Their 35.2% accuracy from distance ranks fifth in the league, but their 10.1 attempts are more than five fewer than any other team.
10. New York Liberty (7-14)
Last Week: 11 (2-0)
OffRtg: 98.9 (9); DefRtg: 104.5 (10); NetRtg: -5.5 (10)
Tina Charles leads the WNBA in usage rate at 30.3% and is the Liberty’s only double-figure scorer at 20.1 points per game (4th in WNBA). However, New York posted a season-high 107 points in their win over Chicago on Sunday with Charles leading six Liberty players in double figures with 21 points. Epiphanny Prince has scored in double figures in six of her last eight games dating back to June 28, averaging 12.5 points per game in that stretch. Can Prince be the consistent second scorer next to Charles that the Liberty need?
11. Chicago Sky (7-15)
Last Week: 10 (0-3)
OffRtg: 98.9 (10); DefRtg: 109.1 (12); NetRtg: -10.2 (11)
While the Sky have the league leader in assists once again this season (Courtney Vandersloot at 7.7 per game), they also lead the WNBA in turnovers at 15.6 per game. Chicago is losing the turnover battle by an average of 2.3 miscues per game, which is the highest differential any team in the league. Chicago’s opponents are averaging a league-high 18.5 points off turnovers per game, which is 3.4 points higher than league average.
12. Indiana Fever (2-20)
Last Week: 12 (0-3)
OffRtg: 94.5 (12); DefRtg: 105.9 (11); NetRtg: -11.4 (12)
Of all the stats available to analyze, sometimes it is the simplest ones that tell the story. For the Fever, it comes down to putting the ball in the basket. Indiana shoots the lowest field goal percentage of any team (40.9%) and on the other end of the court, they allow the highest field goal percentage to their opponents (47.2%). The differential in shooting percentages (the Fever shoot 7.3% lower than what they allow) is too much to overcome.