Advanced Stats in the WNBA

What a basketball coach can learn from analyzing the Minnesota Lynx.

Professional basketball is again on the forefront of data innovation as in May, the WNBA launched a glossary of public advanced statistics for fan consumption, similar to what we saw in the NBA playoffs this year.

This kind of analysis isn’t limited to the WNBA. Coaches who use Krossover for their women’s basketball programs can have access to these same statistics, allowing you to take a deeper dive when analyzing your team. Coaches who schedule a demo today will receive a free one game breakdown, complete with our new Shot Analytics for basketball!

Breaking Down the 2016 WNBA Season

As we get closer and closer to the Rio Olympics break in the WNBA, it appears clear that two teams are head and shoulder above everyone else, though a third team, the New York Liberty, is quickly rising after a slow start to the year.

It’s no surprise the Lynx are so dominant - they’ve won two of the last three WNBA championships while preaching a stout defensive game, and 2016 has been no different. This box score below doesn’t tell you too much though, just that the Lynx don’t allow very many points.

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What sets the Lynx (and the Sparks) apart from most other WNBA teams in the league is just how dominant they’ve been in 2016. Below, you’ll see a chart of the top four net ratings (point differential per 100 possessions) in the WNBA. There are two teams well above the others, and it’s no surprise that they both currently lead the league in wins.

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However, the Lynx might not be done yet. A quick analysis of their last five games shows that the Lynx have been getting increasingly better on defense after a rough patch that saw them lose three straight to the Sparks, Liberty, and the Washington Mystics.

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Defense is where the Lynx really shine. Eight members of the Lynx average below a 95 defensive rating, with three going under 90. Six Lynx teammates rank in the TOP 9 in terms of total defensive rating in the entire league!

One wonders if the team defensive rating numbers are impacted negatively due to little-used players, making the Lynx defensive prowess all the more impressive.

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So why is defensive rating and net rating so important for basketball coaches? According to Dean Oliver, at the core of the defensive rating statistic is the defensive stop. As a coach, not only is the defensive rating helpful in showing you which players are effective at ending an opposing possession through blocks, steals, and defensive rebounds, but this also accounts for forced turnovers and forced misses that don’t show up in the box score. Low individual defensive ratings are a great predictor for coaches who really want to know how efficient their team is on defense.

The net rating is a good barometer for where your team is overall. If you have an extremely negative net rating, it’s time to figure out how to score more efficiently on offense, or check your Krossover game breakdown to find out your errors on defense! Keep in mind that a 0.0 rating is just an average performance, and will not get you to the playoffs!

Basketball Coaches:

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Find out how Krossover can help you find your defensive rating by scheduling a free one game demo today!

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