A point is worth a point, but every other basketball statistic is game for argument. Should steals and turnovers be of equal positive and negative value, since they both end a possession for one team while starting a possession for the other? How much worthier is an offensive rebound than a defensive rebound? A defensive board stops/starts a possession, but an offensive board extends a possession, and often right under the basket.
Basketball analysts disagree more widely about the value of an offensive rebound than any other statistic. In Basketball on Paper, Dean Oliver surveyed 11 different basketball statistical evaluation systems, and found that the systems valued an offensive rebound as little as .63 of a point but as much as 3.82 points. However, a 1998-2002 survey of NBA games showed that the team which made more offensive rebounds won fewer games. That relates directly to shooting accuracy -- if both teams are rebounding equally well, then the team which is getting more offensive rebounds is shooting worse. It stands to reason that the team which gets more defensive rebounds won 75 percent of the games, while the better-shooting team won 79 percent.
Oliver modified the analysis by comparing teams who were shooting about the same. In those cases, the teams making fewer turnovers won 69 percent, and team making more steals won 65 percent.
If the Silver Stars want to climb out of the western cellar, they'll have to shoot a little better, and take much better care of the ball.
Leading scorer and stealer Marie Ferdinand is on maternity leave, but rookie Shanna Zolman scored 14 points per game in the preseason while shooting .467 from three-point land. Zolman holds Tennessee records in three-point shooting, and the NCAA records for free throw percentage in a season (.957) and career (.916).
Point guard Shannon Johnson led the Stars in assists, and tied Ferdinand for the steals lead, and threw in 9 points for measure. Her 1.8 steals-plus-assists-to-turnovers rate was best on the team. Jae Kingi-Cross will take on the backup role --her career rate for steals/assists-to-turnovers is 1.98, and for what it's worth, in 56 preseason minutes, she's made 13 assists and 2 steals against 3 turnovers.
The newcomers are very promising. Free agent forward Vickie Johnson, a two-time All-Star, brings a double-digit scoring average to San Antonio, as well as a 2.61 steals-plus-assists-to-turnover ratio in 2005, which would lead the Stars. #4 draft pick Sophia Young had a huge college career in Baylor -- the Big 12 player of the year was one of four players to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 assists, and 300 steals (in the company of Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw, and Tamika Catchings). Young has led the Stars in rebounds in the preseason. Young will probably begin the season backing up LaToya Thomas, an occasionally explosive scorer who replaces Wendy Palmer (gone to Seattle).
6-foot-8 Katie Feenstra earned the starting center job by notching 9 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes per night; Chantelle Anderson got the other 20 minutes, and contributed just 6 and 3. However, keeping in mind that centers are not supposed to make steals and assists, Feenstra had 15 assists/steals against 62 turnovers (third on the team). Her preseason numbers are about the same -- 2 goods, 7 bads.
Outlook: The Stars finished seven games in back of sixth-place Minnesota. The Stars will be better -- Marie Ferdinand will have to come back from baby duties sooner rather than later -- and the Lynx maybe a little worse, but to close a seven-game gap seems too much to expect.