The WNBA standings tell one story, the tape and advanced statistics sometimes another.
We dug into all of it this week to make sense of the increasingly competitive middle tier and the teams that might be under- or over-performing. Here is where we landed on every team over a quarter of the way through the season.
12. Indiana Fever (1-11) —
The Fever play a heavy post game, with 41.7 percent of their points per game coming in the paint. The problem is they’re not finishing those shots efficiently enough — they are eighth in the WNBA with 31.3 paint points per game — and their offense is predictable for opponents.
11. Los Angeles Sparks (4-5) -2
The Sparks’ wins this season have come against the last-place Fever and the Sky without Candace Parker. They rank last in the league in offensive rating, scoring just 74.2 points per game, and will be without Nneka Ogwumike until the first week of July at the earliest.
10. Chicago Sky (4-7) +1
I’m taking the Sky’s back-to-back wins over the Fever with a grain of salt, but Candace Parker rounding into form with a double-double in her second game back is promising for Chicago. Taking care of the ball continues to be a problem, with opponents scoring 18.2 points per game off of Chicago turnovers.
9. Washington Mystics (4-6) +1
When Tina Charles scores 20 or more points in a game, the Mystics usually put themselves in a position to win. But for how long can Washington rely on their center? Charles is leading the league in points per game with 24 as well as in usage percentage, with the Mystics running 32.1 percent of their plays through her.
8. Atlanta Dream (5-6) -1
When the Dream’s offense is on, they’re a hard team to beat. Excluding their win over the Fever, when the Dream have reached the 90-point threshold in a game, they’ve won. When they haven’t, they’ve lost. It’s the inconsistency that raises concerns at this point in the season.
7. Phoenix Mercury (5-6) -3
All of the Mercury’s losses this season — except a drubbing by the Sun on May 21 — have come by single digits. They’re playing teams close and are just a few late baskets away from having a winning record. Their biggest problem is their bench not getting it done, currently last in the league with 11.6 points per game.
6. Minnesota Lynx (4-5) -1
That the Lynx have won four games given all of their roster turnover is a testament to coach Cheryl Reeve. She’ll have to go back to the drawing board again now that both Aerial Powers and Natalie Achonwa are out indefinitely with injuries. I’m not counting her out from finding an answer.
5. New York Liberty (6-4) +3
The Liberty are dealing with injuries to Natasha Howard and Sabrina Ionescu but continue to battle against good teams, mostly due to Betnijah Laney’s MVP-like start to the season. As long as the Liberty are connecting on their league-leading attempts from 3 (currently 40.2 percent), they’ll give themselves a chance.
4. Dallas Wings (5-6) +2
Welcome to another edition of “the Wings are better than their record shows.” They’re fourth in the league in offensive rating — behind only the Sun, Aces and Storm — and their bench is scoring a WNBA-leading 26.3 points per game. This is a deep team that’s only getting better as returning players acclimate to the system.
3. Connecticut Sun (8-3) -1
The Sun’s loss to the Storm on Sunday gave us a taste of what life will be like for Connecticut until Jonquel Jones returns from her EuroBasket commitments. For a team at the top of the league standings, the Sun surprisingly have the second-least productive bench. That could hurt them during this stint without Jones and down the stretch.
2. Las Vegas Aces (8-3) +1
The Aces are getting it done with their post players, scoring a league-leading 39.6 points per game in the paint. That dominance down low is also translating to defense, where they hold opponents to just 30.7 points per game in the paint. Not many teams can compete with that.
1. Seattle Storm (10-2) —
Unlike the Aces, the Storm are giving up the majority of their points in the paint. That doesn’t matter as much when you’re leading the league in offensive rating and 3-point percentage at 40.8 percent.