Sports Minute: So far WNBA teams scoring at breakneck pace
By DOUG FEINBERGAP Basketball Writer
WNBA teams are scoring at a breakneck pace through the first week of the season with six teams reaching the 100-point mark through the first 24 games.
Only once did a team cross the century mark in the same time frame last year. Teams have scored more than 90 nine additional times this year. Teams are averaging 84 points a game so far this season — up six points from last year.
A big part of the reason why is the pace of play so far. It's been trending upwards the past few years with WNBA franchises averaging an estimated 82.2 possessions per game this season. They were only at 77.7 last year and just over 75 in 2015.
With a shortened training camp teams have focused more on offensive schemes rather than defensive ones which has led to the eye-catching offensive numbers so far. The question on the mind of most of the league's coaches is will it last?
Many teams are already short-handed on their rosters and with a grueling schedule that has teams playing three games a week it might be tough to keep that pace up.
“It's going to be difficult to see this lasting right now,” Dallas Wings coach Brian Agler said.
This week’s WNBA poll:
1. Seattle (3-1): Sue Bird will be sidelined for a bit with a bone bruise in her left knee. The Storm are deep enough to weather the loss.
2. Washington (3-1): Ariel Atkins and Aerial Powers have picked up the scoring slack this season, averaging 18.8 and 18.0 points respectively.
3. Chicago (3-1): The Sky are using a balanced offense with six players averaging in double figures.
4. Minnesota (3-1): The Lynx have won three of their first four games for the ninth time in 10 years. They also will most likely get Odyssey Sims back this week once she clears quarantine.
5. Los Angeles (2-2): The Sparks are looking for more consistency on offense as they are struggling to score. The team is in the lower half of the league in scoring averaging 83.3 points.
6. Phoenix (2-2): Bria Hartley, who came to the Mercury as a free agent in the offseason, is tied for second in scoring despite coming off the bench. She had 27 points against her former team New York in a win Sunday. With 79 points this season while coming off the bench, Hartley broke the WNBA record set by Kia Nurse of 76 for most points in her first four games as a reserve.
7. Las Vegas (2-2): Lindsay Allen is back with the team after missing a game when she had an inconclusive positive COVID-19 test. The Aces' starting point guard has scored 11 points in each of her past two games — wins by the team.
8. Dallas (2-2): Coach Brian Agler is still trying to figure out his team's rotation. For now, he plays whoever is the hot-hand late in the game.
9. Indiana (2-2): Point guard Julie Allemand has gotten off to a solid start 6.0 points, 6.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds. The Belgian rookie, who was taken in the third round in 2016 by the Fever, has had 20 assists combined in her past two games and is tied for second in the league in that category.
10. Atlanta (2-2): Dream are finally getting healthy with return of Courtney Williams and Glory Johnson. Now they just need to get more consistent on the defensive end. The team is giving up 91.5 points a game — second worst in the league only in front of Phoenix (91.8).
11. Connecticut (0-4): The Sun need to find a consistent third offensive option to complement DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas. Bonner is averaging 27.5 points so far this season.
12. New York (0-4): With such a young roster Liberty coach Walt Hopkins knew there would be growing pains. He just didn't plan on having to go through it with star Sabrina Ionescu sidelined. The No. 1 pick in the draft suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the team's third game of the season. She could be out for a while.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Breanna Stewart earned player of the week honors after helping Seattle go 2-1 this week by averaging 18 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Other players receiving votes included Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota, Candice Dupree of Indiana, Aerial Powers of Washington, A'ja Wilson of Las Vegas and Hartley of Phoenix.
Dallas and New York had woeful days from behind the 3-point arc on Sunday. The Wings were 4-for-30 and the Liberty 5-for-35 in their games. That's only the second and third times in league history that a team has taken more than 30 3-pointers in a game and made five or fewer. The only other time it happened was by San Antonio in 2012 when the Silver Stars were 5-for-30 according to the team in a stat provided by the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Minnesota Lynx went to the beach near IMG Academy on Monday. The players and coaches frolicked in the water and went kayaking and enjoyed the warm weather. The team received permission from the league.
“The WNBA health and safety protocols developed in consultation with medical experts have always included the possibility of limited, structured team excursions once the regular season began. The offerings include golf, private beach outings and exclusive fishing charters with stringent health and safety guidelines,” said a league spokesman.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Sky vs Mercury, Thursday. Bragging rights in the Brondello household will be at stake when Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello faces her husband Olaf Lange, an assistant with Chicago.
Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DougFeinberg
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