Records, ratings, minuscule playoff chances: The defining stat for every WNBA team

Twenty games down, 20 to go. The WNBA officially hit the halfway point of the regular season this week, meaning it’s time to dissect each team’s progress from all angles. Teams have been graded, award races have been examined. Now, let’s talk numbers, specifically stats that define each WNBA team to this point of the year.

Some of these highlight individual impact, some collective strengths and weaknesses. Some showcase accomplishments, others showcase room for improvement. Some might change as the 40-game season progresses to the All-Star Game and then resumes following the Olympic break.

But first, a few numbers about the league overall: Attendance is up to an average of 9,311 fans per game, according to Across the Timeline, the league’s best number since the 1990s. Two games this season (both featuring No. 1 draft pick Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever) already surpassed the 20,000 attendance threshold, something that happened only six other times in the league’s history. And, through Sunday, viewership for WNBA on ESPN networks is up 183% compared to last season.

Back to the basketball — including the most intriguing games this weekend.


On paper, the Dream upgraded from last season’s performance — when they returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 — by trading for Jordin Canada and signing free agent Tina Charles. But that hasn’t translated onto the court so far. Canada missed the beginning of the season with a hand injury, and Atlanta sits at an uninspiring 7-11 record, with young, hungry teams like the Sky and Fever nipping at its heels. The biggest issues are on the offensive end, where the Dream post 95.3 points per 100 possessions and a 45.0% effective field goal clip, both league-worst marks.

There’s time to turn things around, especially with Canada back: In her past three games alone, she had 22 assists. They could also use Rhyne Howard, who has missed the past five games with an ankle injury. Atlanta is 6-7 when Howard has played and 1-4 without her.


24.6 and 23.0: Combined scoring and rebounding averages for Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso when starting together

The Sky have had an up-and-down season with nine losses in clutch games, but the future remains bright behind the post tandem of Reese and Cardoso. It took some time to materialize, as Cardoso didn’t make her pro debut until June 1 because of a shoulder injury and Elizabeth Williams’ season-ending injury allowed the former South Carolina star to join Reese in the starting lineup. The duo have since helped Chicago establish itself as the WNBA’s top paint-scoring (41.7 points per game) and second-best offensive rebounding (34.1%) team — and one of the better overall defensive squads (99.7 defensive rating), fifth in the league.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, particularly in getting more/better 3-point shooting. But the rookies have helped give the new-look Sky a clearer identity.


76: The Connecticut Sun’s magic number on offense

The Sun, whose 13-1 start was best in the league before they dropped three of their past six games, have long been known as a tough defensive team. But even before their most recent skid, coach Stephanie White and players acknowledged they weren’t playing fantastic basketball, particularly offensively. It’s no surprise then that in all four of their losses to date, they’ve been held to 75 points or fewer — and, in all but one, to under 41% shooting from the field. Not helping is that they play at the slowest pace in the league and, aside from the Sky, take and make the fewest 3-pointers of any team.

Despite their postseason success over the past five years, the Sun will likely need to elevate their offensive play if they want to surpass the likes of the high-scoring Aces and Liberty and clinch the franchise’s first title. Keep an eye on DeWanna Bonner’s efficiency: The Sun are undefeated when she shoots better than 31% from the field.


3.1%: Dallas Wings’ (current) likelihood of making the playoffs

The injury gods have not done the Wings any favors: All-WNBA selection Satou Sabally (shoulder) is out until after the Olympics. Natasha Howard (foot) missed 12 games earlier this season. Maddy Siegrist is now sidelined by a broken finger.

Halfway through the season, the Wings’ 16 losses are two off from what they racked up in all of 2023. Eight of those losses came by single digits. Their net rating is also a league-worst minus-10.0.

It’s a dramatic drop-off for a team that finished fourth last year and has both Howard and Sabally hitting free agency after this season. Even with Sabally theoretically back after the Olympics, it would take a huge turnaround — and other teams struggling — for the Wings to make the postseason. At the moment, ESPN Analytics gives Dallas the second-worst odds to advance to the playoffs, behind Los Angeles (2.6%).


1: Indiana Fever’s pre-All-Star break strength of schedule ranking

Fever basketball has been dissected plenty. What can’t be lost is their particularly difficult schedule to start the season: Indiana will have played 15 games against teams ranked .500 or better before the All-Star break. After the Olympics, they’ll play just seven, with ESPN Analytics ranking their post-All Star schedule as the second easiest in the league.

As they’ve played more together, the Fever have honed a clearer identity with Caitlin Clark shining as a playmaker and Aliyah Boston and Kelsey Mitchell more deeply incorporated into the offense. Currently ninth in the standings, Indiana sits just out of the playoff picture through Thursday, but ESPN Analytics currently projects them to make the playoffs (with a 62.9% likelihood) ahead of Chicago (52.1%).


Reports of the Aces’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. They were 6-6 prior to the return of Chelsea Gray due to problems on both ends of the court, particularly defensively. But the two-time defending champs finally have their point guard and leader back — or, as Kelsey Plum has said, the sugar in their cake.

The Aces are undefeated since then, including wins over Seattle and Connecticut. With everyone returned to their natural positions, the offense runs smoother and Gray’s presence has been felt defensively, too. The team’s defensive rating ranked 10th in the league without Gray (104.2) and is second with her (94.5). Las Vegas’ overall net rating is also first (plus-17.1) with her back over the past six games.

The Aces currently sit fifth in the standings, but no one in the league is thinking of them as a fifth-place team.


It seemed unrealistic to expect the rebuilding Sparks to finally claw their way back into the playoffs for the first time since 2020, especially with so many young players and newcomers. That said, lottery picks Brink (No. 2 overall) and Rickea Jackson (No. 4) kicked off a new, promising era of L.A. basketball.

Jackson will be a surefire selection for the all-rookie team, but Brink was devastatingly lost for the season in late June after suffering an ACL tear. The former Stanford standout — a 3×3 Olympian for Team USA prior to her injury — established herself early as a premier rim protector, boasting a whopping 9.0% block rate, and showed encouraging flashes on offense, too.


The Lynx blossomed into title contenders this season in large part because they have the best defense in the league (89.5 defensive rating). Don’t gloss over what they’ve accomplished offensively, either. Their 3-point clip is a league-best 39.3%, but even better is how well they share the ball. Their assist percentage is the highest mark in the league and, if it were maintained throughout the season, would shatter the WNBA’s single-season record, set by the Liberty in 2023 (75.0%).

Yes, that number could drop over the next 20 games if Minnesota’s shooting comes back down to earth, but it’s still a testament to the team chemistry coach Cheryl Reeve has said was on point since the beginning of training camp.

What makes Minnesota’s dominance on both ends even more impressive is it has played 12 games against opponents with a .500 or better record and has a 7-5 record in those outings.


When it comes to the performance this year of superteams that dominated the conversation last season, New York has been the most consistent: With their win over the Lynx on Tuesday, the Liberty recorded their best start through 20 games and became the 12th team in league history to start a season 17-3 or better. They accomplished this despite being without Courtney Vandersloot for nine games and after retooling their bench to have more of a defensive focus.

One perhaps underappreciated element to New York’s 2024 success is the ascension of Jonquel Jones, whose scoring average (16.5 points per game) is only behind that of her 2021 MVP season. Her facilitating is also at an all-time high (3.4 assists per game), and her rebounding (8.8 boards per game) and defensive presence (1.2 blocks per game) remain as crucial as ever. Not to mention, Jones is shooting at a blistering 58.7% from the field, including 43.7% from 3 (on 4.4 attempts per game).

27.6: Phoenix Mercury’s 3-point attempts per game

Nate Tibbetts brought from the NBA a clear vision of how he wanted the Mercury to play basketball in his first year coaching in the Valley: a style that entails shooting a lot of 3-pointers (Phoenix is second in the league in attempting such shots, behind the Liberty, and Tibbetts has said he’d love for them to attempt closer to 40 per game). Some days, that translates to high scoring. On others, like in the 23-point loss to the Sun, the Mercury went 1-for-27 from behind the arc, albeit without Diana Taurasi and Rebecca Allen.

Phoenix’s 10-10 record suggests it has underachieved so far, though it has also been without Brittney Griner (nine games) and Allen (six games) for meaningful stretches. Both provide length, size and a defensive presence. Griner also works in Tibbetts’ system as her interior scoring gives the offense a different look, and she can kick out to shooters on the perimeter. With the talent of their starting five or six, the Mercury could be dangerous if they get hot at the right time, particularly if they can become more consistent defensively.


Plus-.409: Seattle Storm’s win percentage jump year-over-year

Last year was tough for the Storm as they adjusted to life without Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, finishing 11th in the league at 11-29 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015. They didn’t suffer long. Seattle has reentered the title conversation, currently fourth in the league standings and on track to finish with the largest year-over-year jump for a team since the Lynx (0.412 from 2010 to 2011). While Minnesota drafted Maya Moore No. 1 overall in 2011, Seattle acquired stars Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith in free agency.

Seattle’s calling card this year has been its defense, ranking third in the league in defensive efficiency (93.8 points per 100 possessions). The Storm also lead the pack in steal rate (11.1%) and block rate (12.0%), according to Her Hoop Stats.


Despite having spent the season at the bottom of the standings, the Mystics are not as bad as their 5-16 record reflects. Their net rating is minus-5.3, eighth in the league. One culprit: their performance in clutch time, or when a game’s scoring margin is within five points with five or fewer minutes remaining. The Mystics have played the most such games this season (15), winning just two.

Washington has been without Brittney Sykes and Shakira Austin for much of the season, and now Karlie Samuelson, so it’s easy to wonder what they would’ve looked like at full strength. But following Elena Delle Donne’s decision to sit out the season plus the departure of Natasha Cloud to Phoenix, this was always supposed to be a rebuilding year for the 2019 champs.


Games to watch this weekend


Chicago Sky at Seattle Storm
Friday, 10 p.m. ET (ION); Sunday, 6 p.m. ET

With soon-to-be All-Star teammates Angel Reese and Nneka Ogwumike duking it out twice in a three-day span at Climate Pledge Arena, Chicago will be looking to tally at least one more signature win, while Seattle will hope to extend its four-game win streak.


New York Liberty at Indiana Fever
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Fever defeated a .500 team, the Mercury, for the first time Sunday. (Phoenix proceeded to fall under that mark Monday before going back above .500 on Wednesday). Against New York, Indiana has a chance to earn another such victory at home on Saturday — the only issue is, it has lost to the Liberty three times this season by an average margin of 27.7 points. Can Clark & Co. do one better than their May 18 effort, in which they challenged New York and lost by just 11?


Atlanta Dream at Connecticut Sun
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

The Dream secured a much-needed win over the Sun when they met June 28 in Uncasville. The rematch gives Atlanta a chance to pick up more momentum with Jordin Canada finally back from her hand injury. The Sun, who have cooled off recently, want to restake their claim as a top team in the league.


Dallas Wings at Las Vegas Aces
Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Dallas-Las Vegas matchups have historically been pretty entertaining. Even though the Wings aren’t at full strength and have struggled this year, we’re hoping for another close contest. When these teams played earlier this year, the Aces came away with a 14-point victory, with Arike Ogunbowale and A’ja Wilson putting up 31 and 36 points, respectively.

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