Next-Level Basketball Stats Paint a Clearer Picture


It is early in the second quarter and New York is trailing Indiana. The Fever’s Aliyah Boston is rolling early, scoring on three nice post moves on six shot attempts.

The Liberty are struggling to find a rhythm. Sabrina Ionescu has missed all four of her shots in the first quarter.

Then she catches fire.

She hits threes on back-to-back possessions to tie the game, forcing a timeout by the Fever.

After the commercial break, the broadcast flashes some quick stats from the game:

  • Aliyah Boston: FG%: 50%, Pts: 6
  • Sabrina Ionescu: FG%: 33%, Pts: 6

Both have six shot attempts, and both have six points. But because Ionescu is a three-point shooter, her field-goal percentage is naturally going to be lower.

Enter effective field-goal percentage (eFG%) – a next-level statistic that enables the comparison of all types of scorers and the first of three statistics in this article that help explain the game at a deeper level.


Shooting is queen in the WNBA.

The concept of effective field-goal percentage is quite simple. The equation is similar to field-goal percentage (field goals made divided by field goals attempted) but adds in the fact that 3-pointers are worth 50% more than 2-pointers.

Aliyah Boston’s eFG% in the hypothetical introduction is 50%. Sabrina Ionescu’s is also 50%. Shooting 33% from three (2-for-6 = 6 points) is the same as shooting 50% from two (3-for-6 = 6 points).


On July 5, Indiana shot 47.1% from the field. On July 12, New York shot 41.9% from the field.

The league-average FG% is 43.9%.

Just looking at this stat without any other details would lead one to believe that Indiana was on fire and New York struggled from the field.

However, there is one key stat missing that helps explain the percentages.

Indiana was 4-of-16 from three. New York was 12-of-36 from three. Because New York shot nearly half of their shots from three, they did not need to make as many field goals as Indiana to be just as effective.

When considering threes into the equation, Indiana’s eFG% was 50.0%. New York’s was also 50.0%. Both were above the league average of 49.4%.


After shooting, limiting turnovers is the next most important factor in the WNBA.

However bad a shot attempt may seem, it is drastically better than turning it over. A turnover literally has a 0% chance of acquiring points.

This season, the average number of offensive possessions per game is 79.9.

But, of course, not every game has the same pace to it.


New York played in two vastly different styles of games in the matter of a week at the end of June.

The league average for turnovers per game is 13.4. New York turning the ball over 15 times at Atlanta on June 23rd is above average…in a normal game.

This was no ordinary game though.

The pace that game was extreme. The teams combined for 35 total turnovers resulting in 91 offensive possessions for New York. It is the highest pace of any game in the league this season.

An extra 11 possessions than a normal game, the Liberty actually turned it over less frequently (14.9%) than the league average (16.7%).

Six days later, New York visited Las Vegas in a battle between the two top teams in the WNBA.

New York again turned the ball over 15 times.

Instead of 35 combined turnovers in the game with Atlanta, the Liberty and Aces only combined for only 22 turnovers. Not turning the ball over as frequently leads to longer offensive possessions, and the 77 possessions for the Liberty were below league average.

Therefore, their 15 turnovers in 77 possessions resulted in an above-average turnover percentage of 17.3%.

The Liberty coaching staff were probably much more satisfied with their 15 turnovers against Atlanta than with their 15 against the Aces.


The Dallas Wings have dominated the league in offensive rebounding. The offensive rebounding gap between them and the second-place Indiana Fever is the same as the gap between Indiana and ninth-place Phoenix!

But judging a team’s offensive rebounding performance on the number of offensive rebounds fails to tell the entire story.


Dallas had 14 offensive rebounds in a road loss to New York on June 11.

On July 12, they collected 12 offensive rebounds in a 40-point blowout win at Minnesota, a game in which the Wings scored 107 points.

Both performances were well above the league averages of 8.0 offensive rebounds per game and offensive rebounding percentage of 23.0%.

Despite getting two less offensive rebounds in the Minnesota game, their performance was more impressive than the New York game.

In the game against New York, the Wings missed a total of 55 shots. In the Minnesota game, the Wings only missed 42 shots.

There are less opportunities to rebound offensively when there are fewer missed shots, and the Wings got a higher percentage of the misses against Minnesota.


Counting stats like field goals, rebounds and turnovers are not better or worse than advanced stats. They are popular for a number of reasons:

  1. They’re easy to calculate
  2. They’re easy to understand
  3. They’ve been in the game forever

During the course of a game, counting stats are easier to comprehend and can help match what your eyes are seeing to what’s happening statistically.

But if you really want to know what’s happening, percentage-based stats can paint a clearer picture.

Sabrina Ionescu All-Star 3-Point Record Bobblehead!

Sabrina Ionescu bobblehead

Need to give your lineup some range from downtown? Sabrina can help. Pull up to All-Star Weekend and put on a show with the Sabrina Ionescu New York Liberty WNBA All-Star 3 Point Record Bobblehead.

About Kenyon Wingenbach

High school girls' basketball head coach and educator at West Fargo Public Schools (North Dakota).

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