With the WNBA Finals and World Cup over, it’s time to take a look back at what each WNBA team did this season and forward at what their offseason goals should be. Going from worst to best, we begin with the Indiana Fever:
Fever statistical rankings (per game)
- 12th net rating (-13.7)
- 12th scoring (78)
- 12th offensive rating (96.6)
- 12th scoring defense (89.1)
- 12th defensive rating (110.3)
- 12th field goal percentage (40.9)
- 12th field goal percentage defense (47.4)
- 10th 3-pointers made (6.8)
- 9th 3-point percentage (33.8)
- 4th 3-pointers allowed (7.1)
- 5th 3-point percentage defense (33.9)
- 5th free throw attempts per game (19.4)
- 5th personal fouls drawn (18)
- 12th free throw percentage (74.6)
- 12th personal fouls (20)
- 12th opponents free throw attempts (21.2)
- 2nd offensive rebounds (9.8)
- 10th offensive rebounds allowed (8.8)
- 11th defensive rebounds (23.5)
- 9th defensive rebounds allowed (27)
- 10th total rebounds (33.3)
- 9th total rebounds allowed (35.8)
- 11th TOVs (15.1)
- 12th opponents steals (8.6)
- 4th TOVs forced (14.3)
- 9th steals (7.2)
- 9th blocks (3.6)
- 10th opponents blocks (4.2)
- 11th assists (18)
- 12th assists allowed (21.7)
Analysis of statistical rankings/offseason goals
The woeful Fever were dead last in what are probably the three most important categories: net rating, field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense. That isn’t too surprising considering they were eight games behind the next-worst team in the standings and those categories are directly related to winning and losing as well as the offensive and defensive talents of your players.
But they shouldn’t necessarily have been last in free throw percentage and personal fouls committed. Less talented offensive playmakers doesn’t mean worse free throw shooters. The Fever being last in that was just piling on the woefulness. And not committing fouls is about defensive discipline. Like with free throws, you should be able to clean that up even if you don’t have the most talented players in the league.
NaLyssa Smith attempted the most free throws on the team and for some reason shot just 61.8 percent despite shooting 79.5 percent her senior year at Baylor. So that really dragged the team’s percentage down and probably won’t happen again.
Meanwhile, the Fever were actually really good in a few categories. Their best category was offensive rebounding, in which they were second with 9.8 o-boards per game. Smith redeemed herself for the free throw shooting with 2.2 of those. Emily Engstler added 2.1 and Queen Egbo added 1.8.
Indiana was also fifth in the league in 3-point percentage defense, which is an important category even if the team’s success there highlights just how far behind it was in 2-point percentage defense.
The other two areas of strength for the Fever could be related. They were fourth in turnovers forced and fifth in both personal fouls drawn and free throws attempted. That sounds like a team that is aggressive on both ends of the floor.
Smith attempted 123 free throws; Indiana’s best player in Kelsey Mitchell — a shooting guard who likes to drive and absorb contact — attempted 122. Egbo, an All-Rookie Team honoree, was third with 76 attempts. The Fever have to like their starting frontcourt in Smith and Egbo being difficult to handle and K. Mitchell continuing to be aggressive is something they want too. So their goal should be to keep that stuff up and maintain success in all the categories they’re already good at.
As far as shooting better, putting more points on the board and playing better all-around defense, it’s going to take the addition of some special players. Personnel is what we’ll look at next.
Under contract for 2023*
- Kelsey Mitchell (protected)
- Danielle Robinson (protected)
- NaLyssa Smith
- Emily Engstler
- Lexie Hull
- Queen Egbo
- Destanni Henderson
- Florencia Chagas
Unrestricted free agents*
- Tiffany Mitchell
Restricted free agents*
- Victoria Vivians
- Emma Cannon
- Khayla Pointer
- Rennia Davis
- Bernadett Határ
- Chelsey Perry
Either 1, 2, 3 or 4 from lottery; 7; 13; 17; 25
Analysis of players/offseason goals
The Fever really only have two major-impact players: K. Mitchell and Smith. K. Mitchell has given her heart and soul to the organization in spite of the lack of success it has had and it would be wise to keep her around. She's 26 years old and just had the best season of her career. Keeping her and Smith won’t be an issue this upcoming season as both are under contract.
As has been talked about ad nauseam, Indiana could really benefit from getting the No. 1 pick in the draft and taking Aliyah Boston out of South Carolina. Boston is probably stronger at defending than anything else, but is also a phenomenal inside scorer. She also has more of a college 3-point shot than A’ja Wilson had and we saw how that turned out positively with Wilson and how it turns out positively with so many bigs as their careers develop. Many feel she could be a generational talent.
The Fever can’t control the lottery though, so they should also look to free agency, where they have been woeful in recent years. Last offseason, I said they should shoot for the stars, but it’s hard to blame them when they’re a few pieces away from anyone wanting to come.
It was odd to see Tiffany Mitchell’s usage plummet this past season. She’s a good player, but the Fever might not see her, an unrestricted free agent, as part of the future and of course some things have to change when you’re as bad as they are.
Victoria Vivians, a restricted free agent, averaged a career-best 9.8 points per game, but shot 28 percent from three as opposed to her 39.9 percent clip in her rookie campaign of 2018. She’s another player on the Fever who is solid but doesn't get you too excited when it comes to turning things around.
Emma Cannon was on three different teams in 2021, but seems to have done pretty well in Indiana versus other places. But at the end of the day she’s less likely to be an impact player than T. Mitchell and Vivians.
Long story short, the Fever’s two stars are under contract and free agents aren’t likely going to want to come. So the goal is really Aliyah Boston. While looking for other players in free agency or the draft, the Fever should look for another explosive scorer like K. Mitchell, maybe out of the 3 spot because K. Mitchell is a 2. Egbo was a pleasant surprise as a rookie and Danielle Robinson is solid, but you could upgrade at center or point guard too, with Boston being the ideal center.
Before they do anything, though, the Fever need to find a new head coach. They didn’t give Marianne Stanley (2-7 in 2022) much of a chance and Carlos Knox only fared worse (3-24).
*Per Her Hoop Stats