WNBA Power Rankings: A Brief Look At Winless New York, Seattle, & Tulsa

May 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Seattle Storm forward Camille Little (20) is defended by Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (30) at the Staples Center. The Sparks defeated the Storm 74-61. Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE.

After the Seattle Storm fell to 0-3 for the first time since 2003 with an 84-71 loss to the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday, forward Camille Little tried to put the first three games in a broader context.

"If you're a real Storm fan, you know what we're trying to do. We're going to do our best to be in the running at the end of year," said Seattle forward Camille Little, as quoted in an article by Mike Peden of the St. Paul Sports Examiner.

Without star center Lauren Jackson, multiple new players in the rotation, and an offense that requires player to make reads and communicate, the Storm's poor start could all be explained simply by the fact that they've played the defending champs and a very strong Los Angeles Sparks team (twice).

But that doesn't mean things are going to get better quickly.

It's very likely that the Seattle Storm end up falling to 1-5 after playing the Sparks and Lynx on the road again within the next week. And really, based upon the Storm's performance thus far this season, it's not difficult to imagine them falling to 1-7 after playing the San Antonio Silver Stars and Chicago Sky in their third and fourth straight road games.

So where does that leave them in the power rankings?

Ultimately, every power ranking that has come out has Seattle in the 7-9 range. Although that might appear generous when looking at their statistical performance this season in isolation, it makes a lot of sense when put in context.


Team

eFG% diff

Tov% diff

Oreb% diff

FTR diff

TeamFacs

FacsDiff

MEVdiff

1

Minn.

0.92

0.00

0.41

0.12

6.09

1.46

40.59

2

Ind.

0.29

0.70

-0.26

-0.04

5.20

0.69

28.47

3

Conn.

0.28

0.20

0.04

-0.07

5.25

0.45

19.79

4

L.A.

-0.33

0.53

0.15

0.05

5.33

0.41

14.89

5

S.A.

0.42

-0.45

0.16

0.46

5.42

0.59

5.47

6

Chi.

0.17

-0.33

0.37

-0.08

4.48

0.15

2.42

7

Atl.

0.31

-0.27

0.66

0.12

5.61

0.83

-1.70

8

Phoe.

0.11

-0.51

-0.48

-0.09

5.42

-0.99

-23.64

9

Sea.

0.04

-0.60

-0.36

-0.13

3.87

-1.05

-36.83

10

Wash.

0.06

-0.78

0.40

-0.06

3.70

-0.36

-14.59

11

N.Y.

-0.73

-0.17

-0.15

-0.04

4.43

-1.08

-32.02

12

Tulsa

-1.31

1.04

-0.32

-0.25

4.68

-0.85

-12.89

Swish Appeal WNBA Power Rankings through games played on 5/27/12. Click here for an explanation of these stats.

You might note that if I went straight by the numbers in the right column ("MEV Diff", the differential in overall production between them and their opponents), Seattle would be dead last. They're really struggling offensively and have the worst turnover percentage differential in the Western Conference.

The upper tier might be self-explanatory based on the numbers:

  • The "MEV Diff" column is an overall performance metric;
  • the less negatives a team has in the first four columns - the Four Factors - the better, ordered from left to right by significance;
  • Team Facs and the differential really don't mean much now, but they do illustrate something of a hierarchy developing.

But the reason I added a little subjectivity for this first edition simply sample size, home & road games, strength of schedule, and a few head-to-head battles between the lower rated teams.

A brief look at those lower rated teams:

  • As much as Seattle has struggled, New York and Washington have had such ugly performances that it's hard to drop Seattle below them. The only reason Phoenix is above Seattle right now is that they essentially played two games without star guard Diana Taurasi - not to mention Penny Taylor, who is out for the season - and have still performed about the same as Seattle playing the Lynx and Sparks as well. Phoenix has still managed to be slightly more efficient as a scoring and ball handling team despite the absence of their top two players from last season.
  • Washington certainly has an argument to be bumped up above Phoenix and Seattle, both of whom have lost to top four teams. Until Washington plays more games, it's hard to know what to say about them. But with that ugly home game against Tulsa still fresh in mind, it's hard to imagine them competing beating Phoenix or Seattle head-to-head. Despite Tulsa having a considerable strength in forcing turnovers - their opponents' turnover rate of 33% is a league-best - Washington gets the nod over them for not losing Saturday's game.
  • That leaves a Tulsa vs. New York decision for the final spot and it came down to Tulsa's poor shooting efficiency against defenses that have not been known for locking people down in recent times that's most alarming combined with the inability to stop opponents that's keeping them from #11 - yes, New York is the least efficient shooting team in the league right now at 42.5%, but Tulsa is only at 43.24% and has allowed their three opponents to shoot a league-high 56.33% this season. That's a lot of ground for Tulsa to make up before winning a game, even with the considerable strength at forcing turnovers.

It should go without saying though that it's much too early to make a final judgment on any team at this point - these numbers generally don't reflect a team's actual strengths until about 15 games in and even then late-season surges can turn everything upside down (last season, both the Atlanta Dream and Seattle Storm were examples of that).

Nevertheless, it's always interesting to know where everyone started from so we can chart the changes throughout the season. For the Storm in particular, things should actually get better after they play someone other than the top two teams in the Western Conference and especially once Jackson comes back after the Olympic break.

As usual feel free to put your thoughts - or, better yet, your own rankings - in the comments.

Tuesday will generally be the day when I take a look at league-wide statistics (e.g. MVP, Sixth Woman of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Power Rankings). As I did last year, the plan is to rotate through the set every week based on whichever had the most interesting developments. You can expect the next power rankings in about a month, possibly with more clarity.

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