Stats Insider: Who’s the best team statistically?

Stats can tell you plenty about a game of netball. But do they tell you the whole story?

What if Suncorp Super Netball teams were ranked based on their overall statistics, both positive and negative. Would the West Coast Fever still be the best team in the competition?

Are there outliers who are in far better or worse positions on the Super Netball ladder than what their stats would suggest.

In a word? Absolutely.

This week we’ve put the microscope on this very task and created a very simple stat ranking system.

There’s no fancy algorithm or equation – just points allocated to certain stats that can make the difference between winning or losing not only a game, but also a quarter, which has quickly become so important to a team’s chances of premiership success.

THE SYSTEM

For this exercise, we’ve given an intercept and a defensive Rebound the highest allocation of points with +6, considering they involve a player winning direct possession for their team. We allocated a deflection gain +4 points, deflection with no gain and an offensive rebound +3 points each, and a loose ball pick-up +2 points.

The three negative stats in this simple ranking points system are all allocated a negative number.

Contacts and obstructions are -1 point each and a general play turnover is allocated -2 points, as that team has given up possession. Stats that make up a general player turnover include any turnover stat that isn’t part of missing a goal, such as a bad pass, held ball, stepping, or a pass over a third

THE STATS LADDER

1st – West Coast Fever (actual ranking: 1st)

Not surprisingly, the Fever confirm their position as the competition leaders. Our ranking system has the Fever on 132 points, which is 41 points better than any other team. Whilst the addition of Jhaniele Fowler has been a massive boost for the Fever, they are also doing everything right across the court. They lead the way for intercepts (234 points) as well as deflection gains (56 points). They are also being disciplined working the ball down the court, with the second best general play turnover ranking (-176 points).

2nd – Giants Netball (actual ranking: 3rd)

The Giants sit in second place for ranking points with 91 – almost matching their actual Super Netball position. They are fairly consistent across all stat ranking categories with 210 points from intercepts, both deflection categories totalling 180 points and only -38 points for obstructions. Considering they are only one bonus point out of second spot on the ladder, the stat ranking points system and actual ladder position is consistent with on-court statistical performance.

3rd – Sunshine Coast Lightning (actual position: 7th)

The Lightning are the team that has the biggest positive difference between our ranking points (82 points, which ranks them third) and their actual ladder position (seventh). This tells us that from a purely statistical viewpoint they are not far away. If they can get themselves a win or two they are right back in this competition. They scored very well for intercepts with 192 points and 150 points for deflection with no gain. Where they do let themselves down is in the general play turnover category with -212 points – second only to the last-placed Thunderbirds.

4th – NSW Swifts (actual position: 5th)

The Swifts are performing well without being exceptional. They have 61 total ranking points, which places them in fifth place – one position better than their actual ladder position. They are one of five teams that each have 48 defensive rebound ranking points. They also are doing well for general play turnovers with -172 points.

5th – Queensland Firebirds (actual position: 4th)

The Firebirds’ position is switched with the Swifts. Fifth best ranked team with 46 points but are fourth in the actual ladder. The three stats of note for the Firebirds is the rebounding ability at both ends of the court and the Contact Penalties. They have 60 points for Offensive Rebounds and 84 points for Defensive Rebounds. But they are letting themselves down by giving away a massive -231 Contact Penalty points.

6th – Melbourne Vixens (actual position: 2nd)

Whilst sitting in second on the actual ladder, the Vixens are ranked only sixth in my stat ranking points Ladder. They are a contradiction. Excelling in some categories but not performing in others. Excelling in Deflection Gains (56 points), Loose-ball Pickups (84 points), Contact Penalties (-197 points) and General Play Turnovers (-156 points). But on the flip side they are trailing the competition for Intercepts (132 points), Deflection No Gain (84 points) and Offensive Rebounds (12 points).

7th – Magpies Netball (actual position: 7th)

The Magpies are once again positioned lower on both ladders than expected, considering their roster of big names. They are seventh in the statistical ranking points ladder with 19 points, and are not leading any individual stat category, but they do have the best combined ranking points for contact and obstruction penalties with -242 points.

8th – Adelaide Thunderbirds (actual position: 8th)

The Thunderbirds are work in progress and come in eighth in both ladders. They are the only team with a negative stat ranking points total, with -99.  Two stat categories where the Thunderbirds need to improve to give them a fighting chance of a victory is taking more intercepts and reducing their turnovers. They have only 132 stat rankings points for intercepts and they have a massive -246 ranking points for general play turnovers.

All stats provided by Champion Data

(Official Data Provider to Netball Australia and Suncorp Super Netball)