WNBA Finals 2022: 10 Stats You Need to Know

Before the top seeded Las Vegas Aces host the third-seeded Connecticut Sun in Game 1 of the 2022 WNBA Finals presented by YouTube TV on Sunday (3:00 ET, ABC), let’s dig into the numbers to break down this matchup.

1. Las Vegas’ Offensive Efficiency

The Las Vegas Aces had the most potent offense in the WNBA this season, scoring 109.6 points per 100 possessions. That offensive rating not only topped the charts in 2022, it now stands as the second-best in WNBA history, trailing only the 2019 Washington Mystics. That Mystics team defeated the Connecticut Sun in the 2019 WNBA Finals. Will the Aces’ high-octane offense have the same success against the Sun in the 2022 Finals?

Top Offensive Ratings, Regular Season, WNBA History

  • 112.9: Washington, 2019
  • 109.6: Las Vegas, 2022
  • 109.1: Houston, 2000
  • 108.8: Phoenix, 2009
  • 108.6: Minnesota, 2012
  • 108.6: Connecticut, 2018

The Aces have upped the ante with their offensive efficiency in the playoffs, scoring 114.7 points per 100 possession through their first six games. Las Vegas is on pace for the third-highest offensive rating in WNBA playoff history if they can keep this up in the Finals.

Top Offensive Ratings, Playoffs, WNBA History (min. 3 games played)

  • 116.2: Phoenix, 2009
  • 116.0: Seattle, 2020
  • 114.7: Las Vegas, 2022
  • 114.2: Washington, 2019
  • 114.0: Phoenix, 2007

2. Connecticut’s Defensive Efficiency

The Connecticut Sun will counter Las Vegas’ top-ranked offense with a defense that finished second in the WNBA in fewest points allowed per 100 possessions at 105.8 during the regular season.

In three regular season meetings with the Aces, the Sun held Las Vegas’ offense to just 107.2 points per 100 possessions – Las Vegas’s third-lowest mark against any opponent this season.

The Sun have relied heavily on their defense on their path back to the WNBA Finals. Their defense has been even stingier as they dispatched Dallas and Chicago, allowing just 91.9 points per 100 possession – the best mark in this year’s postseason. That is a mark that is on pace to be the best in the postseason since the 2015 Mercury (87.0 in four games).

3. Starters vs. Bench

Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Las Vegas starting lineup has averaged 33.2 minutes per game – the highest mark of any team in the postseason. Las Vegas’ starting five has accounted for 80.8 of the team’s 92.3 points per game – that’s 87.5% of the team’s offense.

Coach of the Year Becky Hammon has kept her rotations tight and leaned heavily on league MVP A’ja Wilson, who played 161 of 165 minutes in the four-game Semi-Final series against Chicago.

The Aces have four players that rank in the top nine in minutes played per game in the postseason: Wilson (36.8, 3rd), Jackie Young (34.7, 7th), Chelsea Gray (33.9, 8th) and Kelsey Plum (33.7, 9th). By comparison, Alyssa Thomas leads the Sun at 32.2 minutes per game (13th) as the Connecticut starters have averaged just 27.8 minutes per game – ranked sixth out of the eight-team playoff field. During the playoffs, the Sun’s starters have accounted for 71.2% of their 79.8 points per game.

One key to watch when it comes to Las Vegas’ rotations is the health of Dearica Hamby. The two-time Sixth Player of the Year became a full-time starter this season, but is still working her way back from a bone bruise in her knee that kept her out of the first four games of the postseason. She played a total of just eight minutes – all off the bench – in the final two games of the Semi-Finals. With five days off before the Finals, will Hamby be able to play more minutes and lighten the load on her teammates?

Las Vegas’ starting lineup of Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, A’ja Wilson and Kiah Stokes has accounted for 87.5% of the team’s offense in the playoffs.

4. Lineup Comparison

When looking at the lineup data, the Aces have two lineups that have done the bulk of the damage during their playoff run. The starting five of Gray, Plum, Young, Wilson and Kiah Stokes has shared the court for 104 minutes and outscored its opponents by a total of 37 points. This group has shot 47.6% from the field, 40% from 3-point range and 92.7% from the free throw line.

The other key lineup for Las Vegas is their small-ball lineup, which swaps out Stokes for Riquna Williams. This group has shared the court for just 38 minutes and outscored its opponents by 29 points in that limited time. The shooting numbers for this group are just absurd: 64% from the field, 50% from 3-point range and 88.9% from the foul line.

Connecticut’s starting five of Natisha Hiedeman, Courtney Williams, DeWanna Bonner, Thomas and Jonquel Jones have shared the court for 117 minutes over eight games and have won those minutes by 41 points. This group has shot 45.3% from the field, 37% from deep and 86.7% from the foul line on 45 attempts.

The Sun have no other lineup that has shared the court for at least 20 minutes. Their next three most-used lineups this postseason each include three bench players: Sixth Player of the Year Brionna Jones, Odyssey Sims and DiJonai Carrington. The most effective of those three has been with starters Bonner and Thomas joining that bench trio. The group has essentially played its opponents even, outscoring them by just a single point.

Connecticut’s second-most used lineup – with Thomas and Williams joining the bench trio – has been their worst statistically, being outscored by 25 points in just 19 minutes and shooting 31.4% from the field and missing all five of their 3s.

5. Las Vegas’ 3-Point Shooting

The Aces have been one of the most prolific 3-point shooting teams in the WNBA throughout the season. Las Vegas finished the regular season ranked third in 3-point attempts (26.4 per game), second in both 3-pointers made (9.5 per game) and tied for first in 3-point percentage (36.1%). Those marks have only improved in the playoffs, as the Aces are averaging 11 3-pointers made per game on 42.6% shooting from beyond the arc.

Keeping with our theme of great Vegas offense vs. great Connecticut defense, the Sun allowed the second-lowest 3-point percentage in the league during the regular season (32.8%) and have improved on that mark in the playoffs (31.3%). Of course, they’ll have to contend with the red-hot Chelsea Gray, who is averaging 3.7 3-pointers made per game on 59.5% shooting during the playoffs as she has put on one of the best shooting exhibitions the postseason has ever seen heading into the Finals.

Connecticut has led the WNBA in offensive rebound percentage and total rebound percentage in both the regular season and playoffs.

6. Connecticut’s Rebounding

When it comes to cleaning the glass, no team can compete with Connecticut. The Sun led the league in both total rebound percentage (55.7%) and offensive rebound percentage (37.1%) during the regular season. Brionna Jones and Jonquel Jones finished second and third in offensive rebounds per game at 2.6 apiece, with Thomas not far behind in seventh with 2.1 per game. Those offensive boards led to a league-leading 13.5 second-chance points per game.

During the postseason, Connecticut’s hold on the glass did not let up as the Sun once again led in both categories. Their total rebound percentage increased to 56.3%, while their offensive rebound percentage dipped to 33.6%, which is still incredibly good. Once again, the extra possessions led to a playoff-best 11.4 second chance points per game.

These extra shots and extended possessions will be key for the Sun to keep pace with the Aces offense. Las Vegas finished at the bottom of the ranking in offensive rebounding in both the regular season (24.5%) and the postseason (19.9%), but they have held their own on the defensive glass. Las Vegas tied with Connecticut with a defensive rebound percentage of 74.5% during the regular season and rank fourth in the playoffs at 75.6%.

During their three head-to-head matchups in the regular season, the Aces held the Sun to a 30% offensive rebound percentage, which marked Connecticut’s lowest percentage against any opponent this season. The Aces will have to continue that trend and focus on keeping the Connecticut bigs off the boards.

7. Connecticut’s Points in the Paint

During the regular season, the Sun averaged 39.6 points in the paint per game – the second-most of any team in the league – as paint points accounted for 46.2% of Connecticut’s offense. Those numbers have both shot up during the postseason as the Sun have averaged a playoff high of 44.5 points in the paint through eight games played, accounting for 55.8% of their offensive output.

By comparison, Las Vegas has finished last in the league in both the regular season and playoffs in percentage of points coming in the paint: 38% during the regular season and down to 34.7% during the playoffs. In fact, the Aces are scoring a higher percentage of their playoff points from 3-point range (35.7%) than in the paint (34.7%).

Part of Connecticut’s success in the paint is directly related to their dominance on the offensive glass that we just discussed. But they also had two of the top five paint scorers in the league during the regular season in Alyssa Thomas (9.6 ppg) and Brionna Jones (9.3 ppg). The Aces had just one in A’ja Wilson, who ranks third at 9.7, but she has upped that mark to 11.7 in the playoffs – the most of any player that has played at least three games.

During their season series, the Aces finished with a slight edge in paint points – 36.0 to 34.0 – as they held the Sun to their third-lowest average against any opponent. Can Las Vegas continue that trend in the Finals, or will Connecticut take control of the paint like they did against so many opponents this season?

Chelsea Gray is shooting 10-12 from the field and 2-2 from 3-point range in clutch situations this postseason.

8. Las Vegas’ Clutch Shooting

Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, nine of the 19 games played have been decided by single digits – and Connecticut (4) and Las Vegas (3) have been involved in seven of those nine games.

Games that come down to the wire are what makes the playoffs great. The stakes are high and as the pressure mounts, we get to see which players can deliver in the biggest moments.

During the playoffs, the Aces are 3-1 in games that feature clutch time – score within five points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime – while the Sun are 2-1 in such games. During the regular season, the Aces went a league-best 13-6 in clutch games, while the Sun went 9-7, which was the third-best clutch record in the league.

As a team, the Aces are shooting a playoff-best 61.5% (24-39) from the field in clutch situations, to go with 41.7% (5-12) from three and 86.7% (13-15) from the free throw line. The bulk of that work has come from Chelsea Gray, who has a well-earned reputation as a clutch performer. So far this postseason, she is shooting 83.3% (10-12) from the field in the clutch, making both of her 3s and three out of four from the foul line.

Gray has gotten some help from A’ja Wilson (15 points, 5-7 shooting), Jackie Young (11 points, 3-5 shooting) and Kelsey Plum (9 points, 4-10 shooting, but 0-6 from 3). Bonner has been Connecticut’s top clutch scorer with seven points, but she has shot just 1-6 from the field and gotten most of her points at the line (5-5).

9. Point Differential

While Las Vegas enters the Finals as the top seed, it was Connecticut that finished the regular season with the best point differential in the league – outscoring their opponents by a total of 289 points, or an average of eight points per game. Connecticut was the only team in the regular season to rank in the top three in both offensive (105.8, tied-2nd) and defensive (96.2, 2nd) efficiency.

The Aces finished with the second-best point differential in the league at plus-229 total as they won games by an average of 6.4 points per game. As discussed above, the Aces finished with the best offense (109.6) in the league but ranked in the middle of the pack in defensive efficiency (102.0, 6th).

Las Vegas has flipped those rankings in the playoffs, as the Aces have the top point differential (plus-12 per game) and the Sun rank second (plus-7.0 per game).

10. Team Leaders

Nothing showcases the Aces overall talent level than the fact that the league MVP A’ja Wilson is not Las Vegas’ leading scorer in either the regular season (Plum) or the playoffs (Gray).

While the individual leaders lean heavily in favor of Las Vegas, it is the effort of the collective rather than the individual that will ultimately decide which team hoists the trophy at the end of the series.