Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Have the New York Liberty Taken a Page from the Warriors’ “Scheme”?


‘Twould appear a page from the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship-winning playbook has fallen into the hands of the New York Liberty. The brain trust seems to have broken the Dubs’ code – but in reverse.

For the past couple of seasons and through two head coaches, the 2015 titlists were touted as a barnstorming offensive fireworks display starring the best backcourt ever. In actuality, they graded out in numerous ways as among the top defensive squads in the Association both seasons.

Under the leadership now of not one but two Detroit “Bad Boys,” the Libs hang their hat on a stout, stingy defense and a spit-in-yer-eye attitude. They reside in the W’s penthouse when it comes to opponents’ field goal shooting, rate of conversion and second-chance opportunities.

But did you realize they jumped up to No. 3 in conversion rate on the season. Since the All-Star Break (ASB), a bunch of 40-percent shooters have “splashed” to the tune of 48 percent and been scoring 79 points per game (up from 73).

This quiet offensive eruption has occurred even as the New Yorkers continue to play as if the three-point arc is a blemish on the court rather than a strategic factor in the outcome of the game – again a polar opposite to the approach of the Boys from the Bay.

It remains to be seen if Bill Laimbeer’s shell game will pay off as handsomely as Steve Kerr’s version. For the moment, his ladies stand No. 1 in each of our four ranking criteria.

Here are the ratings with two weeks remaining (through games of Sunday, Aug. 30). 

Power Rankings --The Measurement Instrument

Our team-ranking tool utilizes four elements. Two scales are based solely on team wins and losses; the others are measures of the efficiency of team performance in comparison with the competition. First, we’ll simply use win-loss record irrespective of conference.

The second criterion will be the difference between a team’s road wins and its home losses. Since this cute little metric is said to be a personal favorite of current Sacramento Kings coach George Karl, let’s call this the Karl Kount (KK).

Criterion No. 3, Conversion Quotient (CQ), involves the rate at which a team converts its possessions into a successful field goals or free throw attempts. Like the KK, the computation is simple subtraction—a team’s rate of offensive efficiency minus that of the opponent.

Lastly, please allow Abacus to introduce the “SPOR-t” score. SPOR-t stands for “Shooting Plus Offensive Rebounds minus turnovers.” Add a team’s FG percentage and its offensive rebounding percentage (o. boards divided by missed FG’s). Then subtract the percentage of a team’s possessions lost to turnovers. For example, a team shoots field goals at a .488 clip, its offensive rebounds account for .199 of its missed field goals, and .143 of its possessions result in a turnover. So its SPOR-t is (488+199-143) or 544. Once again, our measurement will be the difference between the SPOR-t scores of a team and its opposition.

We’ll rank the teams from 1 to 12 in all criteria and simply add up the rankings. Low score wins, naturally.


No. 1 New York Liberty (4)
[10-week Abacus rating: 1
ASB Abacus rating: 2
6-week Abacus rating: 4
4-week Abacus rating: 4
2-week Abacus rating: 6]

20-8, .714; 1st seed East / 1st overall
KK:  +7; (10 Road Wins – 3 Home Losses) / No. 1 overall
CQ:  +55; (.480 [3rd] - .425 [1st]) / No. 1 overall
SPOR-t:  +122; (522 [3rd] – 400 [1st]) / No. 1 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Liberty have converted over half (429 out of 857) their post-ASB possessions.

No. 2 Minnesota Lynx (8)
[10-week Abacus rating: 1
ASB Abacus rating: 1
6-week Abacus rating: 1
4-week Abacus rating: 1
2-week Abacus rating: 2]

20-10, .667; 1st seed West / 2nd overall                                        
KK:  +6; (9 Road Wins – 3 Home Losses) / No. 2 overall
CQ:  +36; (.477 [4th] - .441 [2nd]) / No. 2 overall
SPOR-t:  +62; (520 [4th] – 458 [2nd]) / No. 2 overall

Abacus Revelation: Little things mean a lot. The Lynx miss the fewest three-point shots per game in the league.

No. 3 Chicago Sky (12)
[10-week Abacus rating: 3
ASB Abacus rating: 3 
6-week Abacus rating: 2
4-week Abacus rating: 5
2-week Abacus rating: 3]

18-12, .600; 2nd seed East / 3rd overall
KK:  +3; (7 Road Wins – 4 Home Loss) / No. 3 overall
CQ:  +20; (.497 [1st] - .477 [6th]) / No. 3 overall
SPOR-t:  +47; (552 [1st] – 505 [8th]) / No. 3 overall 

Abacus Revelation: The opportunistic Sky managed to win three of their last four games despite outscoring their opponents by only two points.

No. 4 Indiana Fever (19.5)
[10-week Abacus rating: 5
ASB Abacus rating: 8
6-week Abacus rating: 7
4-week Abacus rating: 8
2-week Abacus rating: 10]

17-12, .586; 3rd seed East / 4th overall
KK:  +2; (8 Road Win – 6 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall (tied)
CQ:  -1; (.480 [2nd] - .481 [10th]) / No. 6 overall
SPOR-t:  +13 (513 [5th] – 500 [5th]) / No. 5 overall
                
Abacus Revelation: The Fever rank No.1 in both shooting (.370) and defending (.309) the three-ball, a killer combination in 21st Century hoops.

No. 5 Phoenix Mercury (23)
[10-week Abacus rating: 4
ASB Abacus rating: 6 
6-week Abacus rating: 5
4-week Abacus rating: 7
2-week Abacus rating: 7]

17-13, .567; 2nd seed West / 6th overall
KK:  +2; (6 Road Wins – 4 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall (tied)
CQ:  +19; (.467 [7th] - .448 [3rd]) / No. 4 overall
SPOR-t:  -18; (467 [10th] – 485 [3rd]) / No. 8 overall (tied)

Abacus Revelation: The Merc’s recent 2-4 stretch saw their efficiency rate drop from 47% to 44% as they wasted 15 possessions a game on turnovers.

No. 6 Tulsa Shock (25)
[10-week Abacus rating: 7
ASB Abacus rating: 4
6-week Abacus rating: 3
4-week Abacus rating: 2
2-week Abacus rating 1]

15-14, .517; 3rd seed West / 7th overall
KK:  0; (5 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 7 overall
CQ:  -5; (.474 [5th] - .479 [8th]) / No. 7 overall
SPOR-t:  +23; (525 [2nd] – 502 [6th]) / No. 4 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Shock miss 12.5 three-pointers a game, most in the league. They are also the top offensive rebounding squad (.284).

No. 7 Washington Mystics (26)
[10-week Abacus rating: 6
ASB Abacus rating: 5
6-week Abacus rating: 8
4-week Abacus rating: 6
2-week Abacus rating: 5]

16-12, .571; 4th seed East / 5th overall 
KK:  +1; (6 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall
CQ:  +14; (.464 [7th] - .450 [4th]) / No. 5 overall
SPOR-t:  -24; (480 [9th] – 504 [7th]) / No. 10 overall

Abacus Revelation: Would Coach Mike Thibault love a shot at Cheryl Reeve in the Finals? His Mystics have swept her Lynx two of the past three years (including during their 2013 championship run).

No. 8 Atlanta Dream (33)
[10-week Abacus rating: 9
ASB Abacus rating: 9
6-week Abacus rating: 9
4-week Abacus rating: 9
2-week Abacus rating: 8]

12-17, .414; 6th seed East / 9th overall
KK:  -2; (5 Road Wins – 7 Home Losses) / No. 8 overall
CQ:  -20; (.465 [8th] - .485 [11th]) / No. 10 overall
SPOR-t:  +5; (503 [6th] – 498 [4th]) / No. 6 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Dream produce the league’s second best per-game scoring with the league’s third worst field goal shooting.

No. 9 Connecticut Sun (33.5)
[10-week Abacus rating: 8
ASB Abacus rating: 7
6-week Abacus rating: 6
4-week Abacus rating: 3
2-week Abacus rating: 3]

13-17, .433; 5th seed East / 8th overall
KK:  -3; (6 Road Wins – 9 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
CQ:  -15; (.460 [10th] - .475 [5th]) / No. 9 overall
SPOR-t:  -15; (494 [7th] – 509 [10th]) / No. 7 overall

Abacus Revelation: In the last six games, the Sun have allowed the opposition to shoot 47% from the floor and 41% from behind the arc. Adios, Playoffs.

No. 10 Los Angeles Sparks (36)
[10-week Abacus rating: 10
ASB Abacus rating: 12
6-week Abacus rating: 12
4-week Abacus rating: 11
2-week Abacus rating: 12]

12-18, .400; 4th seed West / 10th overall
KK:  -3; (5 Road Wins – 8 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
CQ:  -11; (.469 [6th] - .480 [9th]) / No. 8 overall
SPOR-t:  -18; (488 [8th] – 506 [9th]) / No. 8 overall (tied)

Abacus Revelation: In their last 14 games, the Sparks are shooting .477 from the field after going .425 for the first 16 games. Oh, and they now top the ranks (.450).

No. 11 Seattle Storm (44)
[10-week Abacus rating: 11
ASB Abacus rating: 11
6-week Abacus rating: 11
4-week Abacus rating: 10
2-week Abacus rating: 9]

9-20, .310; 5th seed West / 11th overall
KK:  -5; (2 Road Wins – 7 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall
CQ:  -33; (.445 [11th] - .478 [7th]) / No. 11 overall
SPOR-t:  -97; (412 [12th] – 509 [10th]) / No. 11 overall

Abacus Revelation: Seattle has shown some offensive proficiency, ranking fourth in field goal shooting and third in Points per Shot.

No. 12 San Antonio Stars (48)
[10-week Abacus rating: 12
ASB Abacus rating: 10
6-week Abacus rating: 10
4-week Abacus rating: 11
2-week Abacus rating: 11]

7-23, .233; 6th seed West / 12th overall
KK:  -8; (0 Road Wins – 8 Home Losses) / No. 12 overall
CQ:  -56; (.434 [12th] - .490 [12th]) / No. 12 overall
SPOR-t:  -117; (427 [11th] – 544 [12th]) / No. 12 overall

Abacus Revelation: Opponents attempt fewer three-pointers against the Stars than any other team in the league – or if you’d prefer, San Antonio surrenders fewer three-point field goal attempts than anyone else in the “W.”


Three-ficiency

For the NBA’s 2014-15 season, seven teams finished in the Top Ten in both shooting and defending the three-point shot – all qualified for the playoffs, including three of the four conference finalists.

The 12-team WNBA’s proportional equivalent (upper third) is a Top Four finish. The Fever (tops on both scales) and Mystics currently reside in this neighborhood.

We’ll rank the teams by the difference between their own three-point shooting and that of the opposition. (Attempts and makes are presented “per-game” for ease of comparison.)
                                                                                            
No. 1 Indiana Fever   [+61]
[10-week rating: 1
ASB rating: 1
6-week rating: 1
4-week rating: 3
2-week rating: 7]

.370 [1st] – 5.59 [4th] out of 15.1 [4th]
.309 [1st] – 4.48 [4th] out of 14.52 [6th]

No. 2 Washington Mystics   [+30]
[10-week rating: 2
ASB rating: 2
6-week rating: 3
4-week rating: 4
2-week rating: 4]

.343 [3rd] – 5.89 [3rd] out of 17.18 [3rd]
.313 [3rd] – 4.04 [2nd] out of 12.89 [2nd]

No. 3 Minnesota Lynx   [+25]
[10-week rating: 4
ASB rating: 2
6-week rating: 4
4-week rating: 5
2-week rating: 5]

.335 [4th] – 4 [9th] out of 11.93 [11th]
.310 [2nd] – 5.2 [9th] out of 16.8 [12th]

No. 4 Seattle Storm   [+1]
[10-week rating: 6
ASB rating: 6
6-week rating: 7
4-week rating: 7
2-week rating: 6]

.325 [7th] – 4.83 [6th] out of 14.86 [6th]
.324 [6th] – 5.17 [8th] out of 15.97 [10th]
                                                                                                                                                    
No. 5 Connecticut Sun   [-2]
[10-week rating: 3
ASB rating: 7
6-week rating: 5
4-week rating: 6
2-week rating: 1]

.346 [2nd] – 6.43 [1st] out of 18.57 [2nd]
.348 [11th] – 4.6 [5th] out of 13.23 [3rd]

No. 6 Phoenix Mercury   [-6]
[10-week rating: 5
ASB rating: 5
6-week rating: 6
4-week rating: 1
2-week rating: 3]

.326 [6th] – 4.73 [7th] out of 14.5 [7th]
.332 [7th] – 5 [7th] out of 15.07 [7th]

No. 7 Tulsa Shock   [-10]
[10-week rating: 9
ASB rating: 4
6-week rating: 2
4-week rating: 2
2-week rating: 2]

.328 [5th] – 6.14 [2nd] out of 18.69 [1st]
.338 [10th] – 4.83 [6th] out of 14.28 [5th]

No. 8 Atlanta Dream   [-10]
[10-week rating: 10
ASB rating: 8
6-week rating: 8
4-week rating: 12
2-week rating: 9]

.324 [8th] – 4.86 [5th] out of 15 [5th]
.334 [8th] – 5.28 [10th] out of 15.79 [9th]

No. 9 Los Angeles Sparks   [-18]
[10-week rating: 8
ASB rating: 9
6-week rating: 9
4-week rating: 8
2-week rating: 12]

.299 [12th] – 4.3 [8th] out of 14.4 [8th]
.317 [4th] – 4.4 [3rd] out of 13.87 [4th]

No. 10 San Antonio Stars   [-20]
[10-week rating: 7
ASB rating: 10
6-week rating: 12
4-week rating: 10
2-week rating: 8]

.302 [11th] – 3.73 [11th] out of 12.37 [9th]
.322 [5th] – 3.97 [1st] out of 12.3 [1st]

No. 11 New York Liberty   [-28]
[10-week rating: 11
ASB rating: 11
6-week rating: 11
4-week rating: 9
2-week rating: 11]

.310 [10th] – 3.57 [12th] out of 11.54 [12th]
.338 [9th] – 5.54 [12th] out of 16.39 [11th]

No. 12 Chicago Sky   [-40]
[10-week rating: 12
ASB rating: 12
6-week rating: 10
4-week rating: 11
2-week rating: 10]

.311 [9th] – 3.83 [10th] out of 12.33 [10th]
.351 [12th] – 5.37 [11th] out of 15.3 [8th]

Shooting and Scoring: The Grading Scale

To rank the teams, we’ll consider Points per game, Points per shot (i.e. field goal attempt), Points per possession and S(H)UM. (That last category is simply the sum of a team’s FG%, 3FG% and FT%.)

Again, we’ll rank the teams from 1 to 12 in all criteria and simply add up the rankings.

No. 1 Indiana Fever [7.5]
[10-week rating: 2
ASB rating: 4
6-week rating: 2
4-week rating: 3
2-week rating: 5]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
78.2 [2nd*] – 1.202 [1st] –0.988 [2nd] – 1590 [2nd]


No. 2 Chicago Sky [10]
[10-week rating: 1
ASB rating: 1
6-week rating: 1
4-week rating: 1
2-week rating: 1]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
82.5 [1st] – 1.166 [5th] –1.011 [1st] – 1582 [3rd]

No. 3 Minnesota Lynx [18]
[10-week rating: 2
ASB rating: 2  
6-week rating: 2
4-week rating: 2
2-week rating: 2]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
75.9 [5th] – 1.149 [8th] –0.979 [4th] – 1600 [1st]

No. 4 Phoenix Mercury [23]
[10-week rating: 4
ASB rating: 3
6-week rating: 4
4-week rating: 6
2-week rating: 6]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
74.8 [8th] – 1.177 [2nd] –0.963 [7th] – 1574 [6th]

No. 5 Los Angeles Sparks [25]
[10-week rating: 6
ASB rating: 7
6-week rating: 6
4-week rating: 9
2-week rating: 12]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
73.1 [10th] – 1.165 [6th] –0.972 [5th] – 1851 [4th]

No. 6 Tulsa Shock [27]
[10-week rating: 7
ASB rating: 5
6-week rating: 5
4-week rating: 4
2-week rating: 3]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
77.5 [4th] – 1.134 [10th] –0.980 [3rd] – 1510 [10th]

No. 7 New York Liberty [29]
[10-week rating: 10
ASB rating: 10
6-week rating: 7
4-week rating: 8
2-week rating: 7]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
75.3 [7th] – 1.169 [4th] –0.957 [9th] – 1512 [9th]

No. 7 Washington Mystics [29]
[10-week rating: 5
ASB rating: 6
6-week rating: 9
4-week rating: 5
2-week rating: 8]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
73.6 [9th] – 1.153 [7th] –0.968 [6th] – 1551 [7th]

No. 9 Atlanta Dream [29.5]
[10-week rating: 11
ASB rating: 12
6-week rating: 11
4-week rating: 12
2-week rating: 9]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
78.2 [2nd*] – 1.148 [9th] –0.946 [10th] – 1523 [8th]

No. 10 Seattle Storm [30]
[10-week rating: 9
ASB rating: 9
6-week rating: 10
4-week rating: 10
2-week rating: 10]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
71.0 [11th] – 1.170 [3rd] –0.923 [11th] – 1575 [5th]

No. 11 Connecticut Sun [36]
[10-week rating: 8
ASB rating: 8
6-week rating: 7
4-week rating: 7
2-week rating: 4]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
75.9 [6th] – 1.123 [11th] –0.958 [8th] – 1509 [11th]

No. 12 San Antonio Stars [48]
[10-week rating: 12
ASB rating: 11
6-week rating: 12
4-week rating: 11
2-week rating: 11]

PPG  /  PPS  /  PPP  /  S(H)UM
68.9 [12th] – 1.069 [12th] –0.878 [12th] – 1479 [12th]


Prior Ratings and Data are available through Week 2, Week 4, Week 6, ASB and Week 10.