Suppose that every player currently in the WNBA was still playing for her original team. If we put every player back on her original team, using 2014 stats which WNBA teams would rise to the top, and which would fall to the bottom?
A long time ago – this was the beginning of the age of computers, when the personal computer meant the Apple IIe or some IBM Desktop Clone – I was a big fan of sports newspapers, the internet of their day.
In particular, I was a fan of baseball and one writer too advantage of the first sports simulation programs to create a baseball league where no one was ever traded. Each player in baseball that time was assigned to the team where he started.
I wondered what the result would be in the WNBA if every player this season had remained on the team where they started. Hammonova returns to New York! De Souza is on the Sparks! Charles hikes her way back to Connecticut! What would be the best teams out there, and what would be the worst?
I decided to use Win Shares as projected by basketball-reference.com for the 2014 WNBA season. The positions listed below for players come from either their listed position on a WNBA roster, or in the case of guards a lot of guesswork as to whether the player is truly a two-guard, a point guard, or some combo guard. So don’t be too harsh if I get it wrong!
Of course, it could never be perfectly straightforward. After the reassignment of all players to their starting teams, some teams end up with fewer than 11 players and some end up with more than 12 players. In counting a team’s estimated wins, I will only count their 12 best players and “cut” all of those falling short. For teams of 10 players or less, they’ll just have to make due with the misfortune of a reduced roster.
We also have the cases where a player’s first team is one that doesn’t exist anymore, like Charlotte or Sacramento. In which case, the players starting team is the first place they ended up that still has an active team. Where players have started with defunct teams, the team will be noted in parentheses. In the case of the Tulsa Shock, players that started on the Detroit Shock will end up in Tulsa.
So let’s look at the teams from worst to best.
Seattle Current Team Win Shares SEA Hawkins F Washington 1.1 SEA Stricklen F/F Seattle 1.1 SEA Clark F Seattle 0.7 SEA Wright G/PG Seattle 0.7 SEA K. Thomas C Indiana 0.4 SEA Rolle C Seattle 0.3 SEA Bird PG Seattle 0.2 SEA Robinson F Seattle 0.2 SEA Kobryn C Phoenix 0.0 4.7
Egad. With every player going back to her starting team, Seattle is not only the worst team in the league, but even if Lauren Jackson were on this roster it would still be pretty bad. Sue Bird will be 34 1/2 when next year starts and her true shooting percentage (which counts 3-pointers and free throws) was the worst it has ever been in her career. You can tell that Seattle has a problem when you note that six of the players on this nine-player roster are still with the Storm.
Indiana Current Team Win Shares IND Catchings F Indiana 2.2 IND January PG Indiana 1.5 IND Goodlett C Chicago 0.7 IND Lucas G Indiana 0.7 IND White G Minnesota 0.7 IND Howard F Indiana 0.5 IND Clarendon PG Indiana 0.1 IND Hassell F Indiana 0.0 IND Hoffman F Indiana -0.1 6.3
Indiana would be the worst team in the Eastern Conference but there are some difference between the situation of the Fever and the Storm. Unlike Seattle, the real world Indiana is a title contender. Why? Because Indiana has been very smart in acquiring its pieces from other teams like Erlana Larkins, Karima Christmas and Shavonte Zellous. Even Catchings’s paltry Win Shares of 2.2 reflects injury more than a decline in ability.
San Antonio Current Team Win Shares SAS Robinson PG San Antonio 2.7 SAS Young F San Antonio 2.2 SAS Appel C San Antonio 2.0 SAS McBride G/F San Antonio 2.0 SAS Little F Seattle 1.7 SAS Adams F/C San Antonio 1.5 SAS S. Johnson G/PG San Antonio 0.8 SAS Alexander C San Antonio 0.2 SAS Ndour C San Antonio -0.1 SAS Whyte* PG San Antonio -0.1 SAS Butler* PG San Antonio -0.1 12.8
This is just the current San Antonio team without Becky Hammon and Jia Perkins, who both got their starts with other teams. (By the way – did you know that Becky Hammon was undrafted?) Adding Camille Little back doesn’t help.
T. Johnson PG
J. Thomas PG
G cut Washington
G cut Atlanta (Houston)
Albert Lee will be unhappy to learn that Washington barely misses the playoffs in this universe, but like the current Mystics this team has a lot of potential. It makes one wonder how good the team could have been if it had stuck with Julie Plank and Angela Taylor running things.
New York Current Team Win Shares NYL Larkins F Indiana 4.9 NYL McCarville C Minnesota (Charlotte) 2.4 NYL Vaughn C Washington 1.9 NYL Breland F Chicago 1.5 NYL Cruz PG New York 1.5 NYL Hammon PG San Antonio 1.4 NYL A. Montgomery G/F New York 1.1 NYL Bone F/C Connecticut 1.0 NYL Christon F San Antonio
0.3 NYL McKinney F/C New York 0.3 NYL Greene G Washington 0.2 NYL Jeffery PG New York 0.1 NYL To. Young G cut New York 0.1 NYL Cain C cut Connecticut 0.0 NYL T. Jackson F cut Tulsa 0.0 NYL Powell F cut Seattle (Charlotte, Sacramento) 0.0 NYL Carson G/F cut New York -0.3 16.6
The Liberty have so many ex-players rolling around the league that they have the luxury of cutting the fat from the roster. I suspect that Bill Laimbeer would like this roster better than than the one he has now. Most of the top players on this version of the Liberty no longer get to shake hands with Maddie or hear the cheers of fans from MSG.
Tulsa Current Team Win Shares TUL Diggins PG Tulsa 3.9 TUL Latta PG Washington 3.3 TUL Sims G/PG Tulsa 2.9 TUL G. Johnson F Tulsa 2.5 TUL Zellous G Indiana 2.0 TUL Baugh F Tulsa 0.9 TUL N. Lacy PG New York 0.3 TUL Thompson F Atlanta 0.3 TUL Hooper F Tulsa 0.2 TUL Pedersen F Connecticut 0.2 TUL R. Williams G Tulsa 0.2 TUL Braxton F/C New York 0.0 TUL Kizer F cut Indiana 0.0 TUL Plaisance F cut Tulsa -0.1 TUL Goodrich PG cut Tulsa -0.3 TUL Cash F cut New York -0.5 16.7
Do you know what’s so scary about this team? That a lot of players on it are very young. Tulsa has been very bad for a while but has made the most of it and have a core that can contend for the playoffs even if they can’t keep them all in Tulsa.
Los Angeles Current Team Win Shares LAS Parker F/C Los Angeles 5.0 LAS de Souza C Atlanta 4.9 LAS N. Ogwumike F Los Angeles 4.7 LAS Lavender C Los Angeles 2.6 LAS O’Hea G Seattle 0.8 LAS Abdi F Los Angeles 0.0 LAS Milton-Jones F Atlanta 0.0 LAS Morris PG Los Angeles -0.1 LAS Greene G Los Angeles -0.2 17.7
Not a lot of talent left in the WNBA that had its origin in Los Angeles. This is fitting. Los Angeles has usually been a destination for WNBA players, and not an origin. This is an interesting team, but what are you going to do for the guard positions? I guess we’ll see if Candace Parker really can play five positions.
Connecticut Current Team Win Shares CON C. Ogwumike F Connecticut 4.7 CON Whalen PG Minnesota 4.3 CON Charles C New York 4.2 CON A. Thomas F Connecticut 2.2 CON Douglas G/F Connecticut/Orlando 1.8 CON Phillips PG Phoenix 1.8 CON Griffin F Connecticut 1.3 CON Lawson G/PG Washington (Sacramento) 1.3 CON Hightower G Connecticut 0.7 CON Faris G Connecticut 0.0 CON Jekabsone-Zogota G Phoenix -0.3 CON Gruda C Los Angeles -0.4 CON McCray G/F cut Connecticut -0.9 21.6
This version of the Sun would be no one’s lottery team! Note that Katie Douglas is back home, but before she was in Connecticut she started out with the Orlando Miracle which was later relocated to Mohegan. Could this team have beaten the 2014 Atlanta Dream of our universe?
Minnesota Current Team Win Shares MIN M. Moore F Minnesota 8.1 MIN Augustus G Minnesota 2.2 MIN Dantas F Minnesota 2.2 MIN Murphy G Phoenix 1.4 MIN Peters F Minnesota 1.1 MIN R. Montgomery PG Connecticut 0.9 MIN Brunson F Minnesota (Sacramento) 0.7 MIN Quinn PG Seattle 0.7 MIN Rodgers G/PG New York 0.6 MIN Liston G Minnesota 0.5 MIN Wright G/PG Minnesota 0.4 MIN Hodges G Tulsa (Houston) 0.3 MIN Houston F cut New York 0.1 MIN Taylor F cut Minnesota 0.1 MIN L. Moore PG cut Minnesota 0.0 MIN Harding PG cut Los Angeles -0.3 MIN Wiggins G cut Los Angeles -0.3 19.1
A conference contender for one reason. They have Maya, and you don’t. Come to think of it, that describes the current 2014 real-world Minnesota Lynx!
Atlanta Position Current Team Win Shares ATL Hayes G Atlanta 4.8 ATL Lyttle F Atlanta (Houston) 4.5 ATL Paris C Tulsa (Sacramento) 3.8 ATL McCoughtry G/F Atlanta 3.1 ATL Bentley PG Connecticut 2.0 ATL Henry F/C Atlanta 1.4 ATL Ta. Young F Chicago 1.1 ATL Schimmel G/PG Atlanta 0.7 ATL Dumerc PG Atlanta 0.2 ATL Colhado C Atlanta 0.2 ATL Clements G Chicago 0.2 ATL Orekhova F Atlanta -0.1 21.9
Would you rather have the real Atlanta Dream, or this version? I like having Tamera Young as a defensive specialist, but I miss Erika in the post.
Phoenix Current Team Win Shares PHO Griner C Phoenix 6.6 PHO Taurasi G/PG Phoenix 5.4 PHO Taylor F Phoenix (Cleveland) 4.0 PHO Bonner G/F Phoenix 3.8 PHO Pierson F/C New York 1.6 PHO Quigley G/PG Chicago 1.4 PHO Pondexter G/PG New York 1.1 PHO Warley C New York 0.9 PHO Gilbreath-Butler G Connecticut 0.1 PHO Prahalis
PG Los Angeles *
0.0 PHO Bias PG Phoenix -0.3 PHO J. Lacy F Tulsa -0.3 24.3
That front four is as strong a front four as you’ll ever see, with something for everyone, including fans of swinging Sammy P!
Chicago Current Team Win Shares CHI Dupree F Phoenix 5.3 CHI Currie F Washington 3.0 CHI Prince G/PG Chicago 2.9 CHI Delle Donne G/F Chicago 2.7 CHI Toliver PG Los Angeles 2.5 CHI Fowles C Chicago 2.4 CHI Perkins G/PG San Antonio (Charlotte) 1.9 CHI Mims F Phoenix 1.8 CHI Herrington G Los Angeles 1.4 CHI Gatling C Chicago 0.9 CHI Vandersloot PG Chicago 0.3 CHI Ellenberg G Chicago 0.0 CHI Brandon F cut Chicago -0.1 CHI Faulkner PG cut Chicago -0.3 CHI Carter PG cut Indiana -0.8
Could that lineup win a championship, or is it just good on paper? I’ll leave that for you to decide.