I took a bit of a break from writing in between the women’s pro and college seasons, but I did get the numbers I needed in that time and thought I’d share what these numbers say about who the top “creators” are in the WNBA…and what that even means.
What is Creation Ratio?
Put simply, CR is a measure of a player’s ability to create shots for themselves. It is the ratio of a player’s shots created for herself or others compared to the shots others create for them. The actual formula is somewhat elaborate*, but is essentially a player’s assists plus estimated unassisted field goal and free throw attempts over their estimated assisted field goal and free throw attempts.
Ziller uses his creation to take a close look at a recent debate about whether Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant’s ability to create shots for himself is truly important, but adding assists** to what it means to “create shots” is what stands out for me: creation ratio suggests that NBA point guards create three times as many shots as other players.
Ziller described how CR works further at SBN’s Sactown Royalty: a player gets a low CR if she is set up on most of their shots, and if she doesn’t create many shots for herself or her teammates. A player gets a high CR if she sets up her teammates or creates her own shots frequently, and if she doesn’t rely on teammates to set her up. A creation ratio of 1 means a player creates as many shots as they are set up on (that turns out to be the median in the WNBA, belonging to Washington Mystics center Nicky Anosike).
As in the NBA, point guards are responsible for creating a higher ratio of shots than any other player in the WNBA – while 27 the top 30 CRs in the NBA are point guards, 13 of the top 15 CRs were point guards in the WNBA***. Also similar, point guards led the way with the highest average CRs in the WNBA this past season, though not quite tripling the highest average CR of the next closest position as their NBA counterparts did.
So with these numbers, it’s fair to confirm the simple assumption I made about the WNBA based on the NBA CR numbers: point guards are responsible for creating more shot attempts than any other position, arguably making them – and their particular skillsets – more valuable than they’re often given credit for.
Yet that doesn’t mean those poor centers stuck inside waiting for someone to pass them the ball are bad players while guards are inherently good.