If you’ve visited the WNBA’s official website since the 2019 season began, you’ll notice a significant redesign. While most of the changes are largely cosmetic, there’s one major update that’s very useful: the revamped stats page.
Click on “Stats” at the top of the website and you’ll get something like this:
This will look familiar to anyone who has used the stats page on NBA.com, mainly because the WNBA is finally presenting its stats using the same software. Doing so opens up a world of possibilities for fans and media, giving us significantly more information than had been available on the website’s previous iteration.
A brief overview
So, what’s new?
The overhauled stats page features everything from sortable player and team stats (including totals and per-game, per-minute and per-possession averages), player and team shot charts and lineup data (sortable by any combination of players) to on/off court statistics, in-depth advanced box score analysis and team scoring distributions.
If this seems like a lot, well, that’s because it is. Most of the aforementioned data has been either difficult or downright impossible to find before this season, with WNBA.com’s “advanced” statistics archive paling in comparison to that of NBA.com’s — or even those of independent basketball websites such as Basketball Reference.
But, now, it’s a rabbit hole just waiting to be explored.
Suppose you want to look up the top fourth-quarter scoring performances of the season. That’s no problem.
Or maybe you like visuals and want to see where on the floor Nneka Ogwumike has been the most productive. Take a look at her hex map:
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are virtually endless, especially with the data going all the way back to the league’s inaugural 1997 season.
Why does this stuff matter?!
An excellent question.
The WNBA is still growing. It’s headed in the right direction — new TV deals and increased levels of media coverage point to this — but there’s still lots of work to be done to continue growing the product and exposing it to potential audiences.
Expanding the statistical database is one way to reach these audiences. For basketball fans who enjoy interpreting the sport through advanced metrics, WNBA.com is now a great resource — and an additional way to take in the product.
Furthermore, it’s something that the league has simply been lacking for no good reason. The WNBA is the best women’s basketball league in the world, and its athletes deserve the professional presentation and coverage to match. The NBA has had this data available for years, so why shouldn’t the WNBA have it too? It’s still basketball. The game is the same. Let people view it through an identical lens.
If that’s not convincing enough for you, Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird documented her frustrations regarding the lack of available WNBA metrics for The Players’ Tribune. The article — which Bird wrote three years ago — laments the state of women’s basketball statistics:
It suggests the women’s game is lesser than — and, therefore, not worth discussing at the same level of detail as — the men’s game.
Bird’s point is thus: On the surface, the disparity in data availability is an annoyance, but on a deeper level, it’s flat-out disrespectful, and there’s no reason that should be the case.
Finally, that’s changing.
Cool, but where do I start?
If there’s one issue with the WNBA’s new stats page, it’s that the sheer amount of data that’s suddenly available is a little overwhelming. Even if you know what you’re looking for, it can be a chore to actually, you know, look for it.
Don’t fret — this is where we’ve got you covered. Throughout the course of the 2019 season, we’re going to be exploring the many sections of WNBA Stats, looking at the new features through the context of what’s currently happening on the court.
For now, take a look at the WNBA’s Frequently Asked Questions page and corresponding glossary, both of which explain terminology that you might want to get acquainted with. Also, leave questions in the comments and we’ll try to answer them in a future week.
Until then, study up and we’ll see you next week!