Delle Donne’s influence on the Washington Mystics runs deeper than we realize

Since being traded to the team in 2017, Elena Delle Donne has been the centerpiece of the Washington Mystics franchise, leading the team to deep playoffs in every season she played.

She’s missed some time this season due to convenience and personal reasons, but while playing, she seemed to be the dominant force we’re used to seeing. Efficiency is a big indicator of how effective teams are on a per-possession basis. True imaging (TS%) is the basis for efficiency. This season she has averaged 17.9 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game on 59.2% real shots (+5.8% better than the league average).

Simply put, Deli is still sub-recording as efficiently as it ever was.

Earnings Over Alternate Player (WARP) is a statistic that evaluates stars who play heavy minutes to determine their impact and value. While the sample size is small, Kevin Pelton’s WARP Rankings put Delle Donne third on the leaderboard for each game.

The cumulative WARP pales in comparison to the league’s stars because it missed some matches, but it’s still impressive nonetheless. WARP relies heavily on box points, which are not strictly defense, so it’s also possible that they rank lower on the leaderboard, but regardless, their impact on the Mystics offensively this season has been enormous which is why they continue to be seen as one of the best teams in the world. league.

What makes “Dynamic Delle Donne,” as I like to call it, interesting is that since the first week of the season, the Mystics have been nearly as dominant without her.

I wrote earlier about how the Mystics offense in the minutes Natasha Cloud plays is elite; However, I note that the small sample size means that these numbers can be inflated. Exactly this has happened. Mystics have gone through some aggressive bouts of cold, which, at times, have redefined Delle Donne’s offensive influence from complementary to almost basic.

Since joining the team in 2017, Mystics is 66-29 in matches when you play and 28-43 when you don’t. Those numbers are stark, but in terms of this season, they don’t tell the full story of her impact on the team and how her attack is what could make or break a mystical season.

Washington Mystics vs Indiana Fever

Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s still early in the season, so there’s some noise with these numbers, but with Delle Donne on the field, the Mystics have a 57.5 TS% which is 4.1 percentage points better than the league average (+4.1%); Without it they shoot 51.4 (-2.0%).

Having a true negative 2 percentage point relative shot isn’t a worrisome statistic, but for a team looking to contend for a title, that’s definitely room for improvement.

Delle Donne’s halfway score is a Mystics game-breaker. Washington is slightly above the league average when it comes to the offensive rating, and in part because Dele Donne has missed some time this season.

With the two-time best player on the field at 200 minutes this season, the Mystics has an offensive rating of 110.91, which would be ranked third in the league; Without it, Mystics has an offensive rating of 95.89, which would rank 10th in the league.

It’s not a good sign that the Mystics rely heavily on Delle Donne’s offense to be fit, but the sample size is small, so it’s possible that those numbers could change again; However, another big indicator of its impact is the team’s net rating. Essentially, this determines how much better or worse the Mystics are when playing Delle Donne, which is both offense and defense.

The results were drastic.

In 200 Minutes with Delle Donne, the Mystics has a +11.95 net worth rating, which would once again rank third in the league. Mystics currently ranks third in this statistic overall, but 11.95 is a number well above the current season’s value of 8.8. Without Delle Donne, the number would be 4.88, which would be sixth.

It might not sound like a steep dip to go from third to sixth, but some of the best teams in the world are WNBA, Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun, net ratings +14.7 and +13.9. If the Mystics want to win a championship, their attack would have to be much better, not just with Delle Donne, but without her. On the bright side, the Aces on/off scale is noticeably worse without their star A’ja Wilson on Earth.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the season is the growing number of ocean shots that Delle Donne has tried this season. according to pbpstatshas a three-point attempt rate of 36.8% this season, which is more than 10 percentage points higher than her 2019 MVP season.

This lack of edge pressure has an effect on the entire team’s attack. With Delle Donne on the field, the Mystics are at their lowest when it comes to edge shooting frequency (22.4%) and their highest when not on the ground (32.4%).

The edge pressure Delle Donne experienced earlier in her career wasn’t there, and as a result, the team took more peripheral shots than usual with her on the ground. This was a problem for mystics at some points in the season. Stabilizing on the look of the ocean when shots aren’t falling has hampered the offense at times, but if your best player is doing a very effective tag triple, that may not matter in the long run.

So far, Delle Donne’s minutes have paid dividends for Mystics, but edge shot frequency variance is something to look out for.

Advanced analytics may turn some people off, but the message is really simple: Mystics have “Delle Donne dynamic” where they currently need it to generate good offense. If they want to see eye to eye with the best players in the league, they have to get better without it.