Monday, May 29, 2017

WNBA 2017: 2-Week Progress Report


The opening fortnight of WNBA play (May 12 – 25) offered a slate of 24 games. An average team performance during this span featured 28 for 66 shooting (about 42%) and included five or six successful three-pointers in 17 tries. About 17 of 21 free throws fell, while teams were snatching 33 or 34 rebounds (of which roughly nine came off the offensive glass) and turning the ball over a perhaps unlucky 13 times in 77 possessions.

The “flagship” Minnesota Lynx have wrapped up 15% of their schedule unblemished in their quest to regain a title they’ve understandably grown to think of as their own. But early returns can be deceiving in chaotic and at times nomadic world of elite women’s basketball.
And even with its imperfections, women’s basketball doesn’t get any more elite than Ms. Borders’s North American summer league.

Here’s how the teams rank at this early stage. Will the Delle Donne / Thibault tag team ride their early flair to post-season success?

The Grading Scale

“Flow”: this calculation puts a number to a team’s unsuccessful possessions (i.e. the other guys’ “stops”). Just take their missed field goals (attempts minus makes), subtract the offensive rebounds, and then add the turnovers. The “scores” represent per-game performance.

“Striping”: this calculation measures the impact of missed free throws and made treys. By subtracting the former from the latter [3’s minus missed FT’s], we identify a team’s gain or loss in points through “specialty shooting.” Again the “scores” are per-game. (A further division by two converts “points” to “conversions” – thus they can be combined with the “Flow” score.)

KK: Karl Kount – named for George Karl – is a way to measure a team’s grit and savvy through its ability to defend its home court and win on the road, a simple calculation for generally reliable info.

 “SPOR-t”: 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 the sum of those o. boards and the opposition's d. boards). Then subtract the percentage of a team’s possessions lost to turnovers. For example, a team shoots field goals at a .488 clip, offensive rebounds at a rate of .199, and commits a turnover on .143 of its possessions. 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 Minnesota Lynx, 5-0 (10.5)

KK:  +3; (3 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 1 overall
Flow:  +4.00; (46.6 stops OF opp [No. 3] – 42.6 stops BY opp [No. 6] / No. 2 overall
Striping:  +0.20; (+0.50) conversions [No. 6] – (+0.30) opp conversions [No. 6] / No. 5 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +95; (588 [No. 3] – 493 [No. 3]) / No. 2 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Lynx 9.2 point per game differential tops the “W” handily.

No. 2 Washington Mystics, 3-2 (12.5)

KK:  +1; (1 Road Win – 0 Home Losses) / No. 2 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +3.40; (42.2 stops OF opp [No. 6] – 38.8 stops BY opp [No. 3] / No. 3 overall
Striping:  +0.20; (+2.60) conversions [No. 2] – (+2.40) opp conversions [No. 10] / No. 5 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +140; (640 [No. 1] – 500 [No. 4]) / No. 1 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Mystics are the league’s best defensive rebounding team.

No. 3 Dallas Wings, 2-1 (20)

KK:  +1; (2 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 2 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +1.33; (42.3 stops OF opp [No. 5] – 41.0 stops BY opp [No. 5] / No. 6 overall
Striping:  -0.33; (-0.50) conversions [No. 9] – (-0.17) conversions [No. 3] / No. 8 overall
SPOR-t:  +81; (627 [No. 2] – 546 [No. 7]) / No. 3 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Wings rank third in overall shooting (.449) but last (.214) from behind the arc.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Masters of the Craft (Part 1)

Which teams are performing the rudimentary skills of the game most proficiently at both ends of the floor? Let’s consider six elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, Points per Game, Offensive Rebounding, the matter of turnovers and the SPOR-t score of our ratings. These teams hold a Top Four rank offensively and defensively:

FG%: NONE
3FG%: NONE
PPG: Dallas, Minnesota
OR%: Washington
TO%: Indiana, Los Angeles
SPOR-t: Minnesota, Washington

No. 4 Atlanta Dream, 2-1 (21)

KK:  +1; (2 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 2 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +6.67; (50.0 stops OF opp [No. 1] – 43.3 stops BY opp [No. 8] / No. 1 overall
Striping:  -1.33; [-0.83) conversions [No. 11] – (+0.50) conversions [No. 7] / No. 12 overall
SPOR-t:  +8; (500 [No. 10] – 492 [No. 2]) / No. 5 overall
Abacus Revelation: The aggressive Atlanta defense creates a league-best 50 “stops” per game.

No. 5 New York Liberty, 2-2 (23)

KK:  0; (1 Road Win – 1 Home Loss) / No. 5 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  -2.50; (41.3 stops OF opp [No. 8] – 43.8 stops BY opp [No. 9] / No. 9 overall
Striping:  +0.50; (+0.50) conversions [No. 6] – (0.00) opp conversions [No. 4] / No. 3 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +22; (522 [No. 8] – 500 [No. 4]) / No. 4 overall
Abacus Revelation: The grind-it-out Liberty are one of only two squads to both score and yield fewer than 80 points per game.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Scoring Pace

100+ points: 0 games
90-99 points: 6 games
80-89 points: 18 games
70-79 points: 14 games
60-69 points: 9 games
<60 points: 1 game

No. 6 Indiana Fever, 2-2 (25.5)

KK:  0; (0 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 5 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  -1.50; (37.3 stops OF opp [No. 12] – 38.8 stops BY opp [No. 2] / No. 8 overall
Striping:  +0.88; (+1.62) conversions [No. 4] – (+0.75) conversions [No. 8] / No. 1 overall
SPOR-t:  -68; (580 [No. 4] – 648 [No. 12]) / No. 10 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Fever defense allows opponents a league-worst 53% conversion rate.

No. 7 Phoenix Mercury, 2-2 (26.5)

KK:  -1; (1 Road Win – 2 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  +3.25; (47.0 stops OF opp [No. 2] – 43.8 stops BY opp [No. 9] / No. 4 overall (tied)
Striping:  +0.50; (-0.50) conversions [No. 9] – (-1.00) opp conversions [No. 1] / No. 3 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  -67; (413 [No. 12] – 480 [No. 1]) / No. 9 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Merc’s top-ranked defense allows a conversion on but 43% of opponent possessions.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Scoring Differential
1-5 points: 7 games
6-10 points: 11 games
11-15 points: 4 games
16-20 points: 1 game
>20: 1 game

No. 8 Los Angeles Sparks, 2-1 (28.5)

KK:  0; (0 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 5 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +0.33; (37.7 stops OF opp [No. 11] – 37.3 stops BY opp [No. 1] / No. 7 overall
Striping:  -0.50; (+2.67) conversions [No. 1] – (+3.17) opp conversions [No. 12]) / No. 9 overall
SPOR-t:  +4; (568 [No. 5] – 564 [No. 8]) / No. 6 overall
Abacus Revelation: The defending champs are the league’s most accurate FG shooters (.515) in the early going.

No. 9 Seattle Storm, 3-1 (30)

KK:  0; (0 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 5 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +3.25; (43.0 stops OF opp [No. 4] – 39.8 stops BY opp [No. 4] / No. 4 overall (tied)
Striping:  -0.75; (+2.13) conversions [No. 3] - (+2.88) opp conversions [No. 11] / No. 11 overall
SPOR-t:  -41; (534 [No. 6] – 575 [No. 9]) / No. 8 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Storm take 8.25 more free throws per game than the opposition, the largest differential in the league.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Masters of the Craft (Part 2)

Are not the exceptionally inept worthy of some recognition? Here are the teams that hold a Bottom Four offensive and defensive ranking in our key elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, PPG, Offensive Rebounding, Turnovers and SPOR-t.

FG%: Dallas
3FG%: NONE
PPG: Chicago, San Antonio
OR%: NONE
TO%: Seattle
SPOR-t: Chicago

No. 10 Connecticut Sun, 0-4 (31.5)

KK:  -2; (0 Road Wins – 2 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall (tied)
Flow:  -6.25; (40.5 stops OF opp [No. 9] – 46.8 stops BY opp [No. 11] / No. 11 overall
Striping:  +0.75; (+1.62) conversions [No. 4] – (+0.88) conversions [No. 9] / No. 2 overall
SPOR-t:  -19; (513 [No. 9] – 532 [No. 6]) / No. 7 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Sun stand No. 2 in three-point shooting (.403).

No. 11 Chicago Sky, 1-4 (40.5)

KK:  -1; (1 Road Win – 2 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  -6.60; (42.2 stops OF opp [No. 6] – 48.8 stops BY opp [No. 12] / No. 12 overall
Striping:  -0.10; (0.00) conversions [No. 8] – (+0.10) opp conversions [No. 5] / No. 7 overall
SPOR-t:  -98; (487 [No. 11] – 585 [No. 10]) / No. 12 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Sky rank dead last so far in 3-point usage.

No. 12 San Antonio Stars, 0-4 (42.5)

KK:  -2; (0 Road Wins – 2 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall (tied)
Flow:  -3.50; (39.8 stops OF opp [No. 10] – 43.3 stops BY opp [No. 7] / No. 10 overall
Striping:  -0.62; (-1.00) conversions [No. 12] – (-0.37) opp conversions [No. 2] / No. 10 overall
SPOR-t:  -79; (532 [No. 7] – 611 [No. 11]) / No. 11 overall
Abacus Revelation: The scrappy Stars rank No. 4 in defending the three-ball.

Abacus Revelation for the Road / Random Ranking (per-game missed free throws)

Washington 2.40
Indiana 2.75
Seattle 3.00
Los Angeles 3.33
Connecticut 3.50
Dallas 4.00
Chicago 4.40
New York 4.50
Minnesota 5.00
Phoenix 5.25
San Antonio 5.50
Atlanta 6.67