What does it take to become a WNBA championship team?

With the WNBA draft taking place on Thursday April 16, 2015 I’ve taken a look at what “it takes”, from a numbers standpoint, to become a championship contender. I’ve used basketball’s four factors (EFG%, TO%, OREB%, FT Rate) along with a couple of other stats to find out what WNBA championship teams averaged, in the regular season, over the leagues 18-year history.

*Four Factor stats glossary is listed below

My goal for this article is to show readers how close or how far each team is from actually contending for a WNBA title. I’ll compare each team’s 2014 numbers to the average numbers that it takes to win the championship.

Here is what the WNBA championship winning team has averaged, in the regular season, on its way to the title.

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 yrs

Avg. WNBA Champ

48.8%

44.7%

19.2%

20.5%

31.9%

29.6%

32.4%

29.4%

47.1%

43.4%

36.1%

32.1%

77.5%

75.1%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NET

 

4.1%

 

1.3%

 

2.2%

 

3.1%

 

3.7%

 

4.0%

 

2.4%

What do the numbers mean exactly? They translate to what we all think of when we think of an ideal basketball team. Here’s what I mean:

1. Have an EFG% higher than your opponent. Effective field goal percentage is like regular field goal percentage except that it gives 50% more credit for made three-point

eFG%  = (.5*3FGM + FGM) / FGA

2. Turn the ball over less than your opponent. (Off TO% must be lower than DEF TO%)

3. Out-rebound your opponent on the offensive end. (OFF REB% must be higher than OFF REB% of your opponent)

4. Get to the free throw line at a higher rate. (OFF FT Rate > than DEF FT Rate)

5. Shoot a higher percentage then your opponents from 2-point range, 3-point range and the free throw line.

I showed you the average regular season numbers from the past 18 WNBA Champions above. Here are all the WNBA regular season numbers for each champion.

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Phoenix Mercury

52.50%

44.10%

16.80%

16.90%

22.30%

27.50%

31.60%

21.80%

52.50%

43.90%

35.00%

30.10%

81.20%

78.00%

2013

Minnesota Lynx

50.20%

44.60%

15.00%

17.20%

29.90%

25.50%

25.40%

27.30%

49.30%

43.50%

36.50%

31.80%

79.00%

77.80%

2012

Indiana Fever

47.80%

47.10%

17.80%

22.70%

29.40%

32.00%

29.40%

26.70%

42.60%

46.20%

40.00%

33.10%

81.40%

74.80%

2011

Minnesota Lynx

49.70%

46.60%

16.50%

19.00%

32.90%

23.50%

26.40%

28.20%

48.40%

43.90%

36.80%

35.40%

73.70%

78.60%

2010

Seattle Storm

50.00%

45.60%

20.00%

19.70%

35.90%

26.80%

31.20%

32.60%

47.80%

44.00%

36.90%

33.50%

79.30%

78.30%

2009

Phoenix Mercury

51.20%

46.30%

17.00%

15.60%

24.70%

31.70%

30.60%

33.00%

48.70%

45.00%

38.60%

33.70%

85.50%

75.00%

2008

Detroit Shock

46.10%

45.50%

18.50%

21.30%

34.70%

27.80%

32.40%

34.40%

44.30%

42.80%

35.30%

34.90%

74.70%

76.10%

2007

Phoenix Mercury

49.80%

46.20%

16.60%

20.10%

22.80%

33.80%

31.20%

28.30%

48.20%

41.50%

35.30%

38.10%

81.70%

79.60%

2006

Detroit Shock

44.50%

42.80%

20.20%

19.20%

34.80%

26.90%

33.60%

32.40%

43.40%

41.50%

32.90%

31.20%

74.10%

75.40%

2005

Sacramento Monarchs

46.20%

44.30%

20.60%

25.40%

34.70%

28.80%

36.30%

35.80%

44.50%

44.10%

35.80%

30.10%

68.50%

73.20%

2004

Seattle Storm

47.20%

46.30%

20.30%

21.50%

34.00%

29.90%

33.40%

29.80%

44.50%

44.60%

38.00%

35.50%

77.50%

71.50%

2003

Detroit Shock

48.10%

43.40%

23.60%

19.20%

36.00%

31.40%

44.00%

24.30%

46.20%

43.00%

38.70%

29.80%

70.70%

74.10%

2002

Los Angeles Sparks

49.40%

43.00%

21.20%

18.70%

33.80%

27.80%

32.20%

31.80%

46.90%

41.70%

37.70%

31.30%

73.80%

74.00%

2001

Los Angeles Sparks

49.00%

44.10%

18.70%

19.30%

35.80%

28.00%

29.20%

27.60%

47.40%

42.50%

36.70%

31.80%

75.60%

76.10%

2000

Houston Comets

51.60%

43.80%

19.10%

20.70%

30.80%

28.60%

33.50%

26.20%

51.20%

43.60%

35.00%

29.70%

82.20%

72.80%

1999

Houston Comets

48.60%

42.20%

19.50%

21.10%

32.80%

33.90%

32.50%

29.00%

48.70%

42.20%

32.20%

28.30%

81.80%

74.00%

1998

Houston Comets

48.40%

43.50%

19.70%

25.40%

32.00%

34.00%

35.40%

26.10%

47.50%

43.20%

33.80%

29.80%

80.20%

72.30%

1997

Houston Comets

47.30%

44.40%

23.80%

25.80%

36.20%

35.30%

35.70%

33.40%

45.20%

44.40%

34.80%

29.80%

74.50%

70.50%

Now I’ll compare each team’s numbers from 2014 to look ahead to improvements needed, from a numbers standpoint to contend in the 2015 season.

Here are the numbers that teams should be aiming for: (click the team name to see each teams 2014 advanced team and player stats)

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 yrs

Avg. WNBA Champ

48.8%

44.7%

19.2%

20.5%

31.9%

29.6%

32.4%

29.4%

47.1%

43.4%

36.1%

32.1%

77.5%

75.1%

Atlanta

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Atlanta Dream

46.40%

46.60%

19.70%

21.10%

32.30%

27.10%

29.00%

29.90%

46.70%

44.80%

30.30%

35.50%

73.30%

76.00%

Must improve in 2015:

-         2 point defense

-         3 point defense

-         3 point offense

Chicago

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Chicago Sky

46.00%

45.30%

18.20%

16.70%

25.80%

30.50%

28.90%

28.70%

45.30%

44.80%

33.20%

31.50%

81.00%

76.30%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Turnover Rate

-         Offensive Rebounds

-         3 point offense

Connecticut

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Connecticut Sun

44.60%

47.40%

18.50%

19.80%

32.50%

29.50%

25.50%

31.80%

43.70%

47.20%

32.20%

32.20%

74.30%

79.10%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Overall defense

-         FT Rate

-         2 point defense

-         3 point offense

Indiana

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Indiana Fever

45.90%

47.30%

19.40%

20.10%

30.50%

28.10%

32.50%

35.70%

44.00%

47.70%

34.60%

30.50%

75.50%

78.30%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Overall defense

-         FT Rate

-         2 point defense

Los Angeles

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Los Angeles Sparks

47.70%

48.50%

18.40%

20.50%

26.30%

27.50%

25.10%

25.90%

47.70%

48.80%

31.60%

31.50%

79.80%

80.90%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Overall defense

-         Offensive rebounding

-         2 point defense

-         3 point offense

Minnesota

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Minnesota Lynx

49.50%

47.00%

15.70%

16.50%

25.90%

25.10%

28.10%

23.40%

49.30%

45.20%

33.80%

34.60%

79.60%

78.10%

Must improve in 2015:

-         2 point defense

-         3 point defense

New York

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

New York Liberty

44.50%

46.50%

18.60%

17.20%

26.60%

25.20%

28.30%

26.70%

44.30%

44.80%

30.50%

34.90%

75.20%

77.00%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Turnover rate

-         2 point offense

-         3 point offense

Phoenix

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Phoenix Mercury

52.50%

44.10%

16.80%

16.90%

22.30%

27.50%

31.60%

21.80%

52.50%

43.90%

35.00%

30.10%

81.20%

78.00%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Turnover rate

-         Offensive rebounding

San Antonio

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

San Antonio Silver Stars

47.90%

50.70%

16.40%

18.30%

25.40%

26.70%

23.80%

27.10%

45.70%

51.30%

35.90%

32.20%

82.20%

78.70%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Overall defense

-         2 point defense

-         Free throw rate

Seattle

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Seattle Storm

48.50%

49.10%

19.70%

17.70%

20.70%

27.10%

26.20%

26.90%

47.80%

49.10%

33.60%

32.70%

77.90%

79.70%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Turnover rate

-         Offensive rebounding

-         2 point defense

Tulsa

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Tulsa Shock

46.60%

50.10%

17.20%

17.40%

32.30%

28.80%

32.10%

33.90%

46.90%

49.20%

30.50%

36.30%

76.80%

80.20%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Overall defense

-         2 point defense

-         3 point defense

-         3 point offense

Washington

 

 

EFG%

EFG%

TO%

TO%

OReb%

OReb%

FT Rate

FT Rate

2 Pt FG%

2 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

3 Pt FG%

FT%

FT%

 

 

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

Off

Def

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

Washington Mystics

46.50%

44.30%

20.30%

16.50%

29.20%

28.70%

25.90%

26.40%

46.10%

43.50%

31.70%

31.80%

79.80%

73.10%

Must improve in 2015:

-         Turnover rate

-         Free throw rate

-         3 point offense

This is just a quick analysis of what each team should be looking for or looking to improve in the draft and in 2015.

*Four Factors Stats Explained

-Effective field goal percentage is like regular field goal percentage except that it gives 50% more credit for made three-point

eFG%  = (.5*3FGM + FGM) / FGA

-Turnover percentage is a pace-independent measure of ball security.

TO% = TO / Possessions 

-Offensive rebounding percentage is a measure of the possible rebounds that are gathered by the offense.

OR% = OR / (OR + DRopp)

Dropp=Defensive rebounds from your opponent.

-Free throw rate captures a team’s ability to get to the free throw line.

FTRate - FTA / FGA