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Can The Minnesota Lynx Be Even Better In 2012?

posted by Swish Appeal
Friday, May 25, 2012 at 1:33am EDT

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Led by Lindsay Whalen's league-high pure point rating, the Lynx shared the ball more intelligently than any team in the league last season. So how much room is there for improvement? Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The question for this WNBA season has not been whether the Minnesota Lynx would repeat as WNBA champions but how dominant they might be in the process.

The Lynx return nine of their players from their 2011 championship team and after the way they stormed through the league with a 27-7 regular season record and only one playoff loss last season, it just feels like an encore is inevitable.

Minnesota Lynx 2011 Season in review

 

Click here for an explanation of this framework and here for our statistics glossary.

 

eFg%

Fta/Fga

Oreb%

Tov%

Minnesota Lynx

49.72%

0.26

32.89%

14.44%

Opponent

46.63%

0.28

23.53%

17.24%

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted

eFg%

fta/fga

Oreb%

Tov%

Minnesota

0.31

-0.04

0.39

0.24

Four Factors differentials for the Lynx and their opponents in 2011.

The Minnesota Lynx were dominant in the three most significant Four Factors in 2011, as were the Storm in 2010. Of the many ways to describe why the Lynx were so great, the most significant one was their rebounding prowess: the Lynx were the best defensive rebounding team by percentage in the history of the WNBA last season. And yet their real legacy is not that they did that one thing well - in the way the 2005 Monarchs were a dominant rebounding team - but that they functioned so well as a unit that it was nearly impossible to figure out what to take away.

Although rebounding was the dominant statistical strength last season, a more subtle statistical strength embodied by their low turnover rate and significant turnover margin was their ability to share the ball and do so efficiently. Obviously All Star point guard Lindsay Whalen was a large part of what made that offense go last season with a league-high pure point rating of 6.40, but they also had a league-high tying six players with positive pure point ratings. The other team with six - the Connecticut Sun - had neither the scoring balance nor that single dynamic point guard that the Lynx had.

In plain terms, when more than half your rotation is able to distribute the ball efficiently and score efficiently, there's not a whole lot a defense can do to get consistent stops. Moreso than simply having overwhelming talent, they had a combination of players capable of making each other even more dangerous than any one of them would be individually. You don't need statistics to tell you that, but the closer you look at what they accomplished statistically last season the easier it is to truly appreciate what this team accomplished.

And the reason they're expected to maintain that momentum is that they didn't suffer any significant losses.

Key personnel losses

Wnba_2011lynx_pvc_html_173f0d4a_medium

Saying that the Lynx didn't suffer any significant losses is not a matter of disrespect toward Alexis Hornbuckle or Charde Houston; the fact is that Hornbuckle and Houston accounted for only 3% of the team's overall statistical production last season. Meaning that dominant team from 2011 returned 97% of their statistical production for the 2012 season.

While Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve felt better about her team around this time last year, ESPN's Mechelle Voepel suggested that the reigning champion's bench might be even better after witnessing the team run away from the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday. But given how little they lost, the question is where that improvement might come from and how exactly would the bench contribute more on a team whose starters contribute so much?

Veteran addition

New veterans

SPI Style

Min/G

VCR

TS%

Tov%

Oreb%

FTR

Usg%

Value Added

4-yr RAPM

Erin Thorn

DS

16.79

0.76 <

53.10 =

18.83 <

1.99 <

11.66 <

18.28

-0.89

-3.9

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