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NEW YORK — More than halfway through the WNBA season, teams are scoring at a higher rate than at any other time in league history. The upsurge in offense is by design.
After the 2005 season, and after several years of dwindling attendance, the WNBA decided its teams needed to play a faster-paced, more fan-friendly style of ball. So it tweaked the rule book.
The league established a 24-second shot clock, down from 30 seconds, limited the number of jump balls and restructured games to four 10-minute quarters.
Three seasons later, teams are scoring an average of 10 more points per game. They now shoot the ball 250 more times than they did in 2005 and score at a faster clip.
By some measures, the WNBA now plays at a quicker pace than the men’s game, with teams averaging more possessions per 48 minutes than their NBA counterparts.
Nevertheless, the league has failed to improve in other offensive categories. Overall percentages for field goals (42.7) and three-pointers (35.2) have hardly changed and remain below NBA levels.
WNBA teams also continue to average nearly as many turnovers as assists, and the league’s average of 77.3 points per game per team falls significantly short of the 100-point mark in the NBA.
Since the rules changes were adopted in 2006, average WNBA attendance has increased slightly to just over 8,000 fans per game, but is down more than 25% from its peak in 1998.
League president Donna Orender says the WNBA’s “incremental growth” in several areas, from attendance to the athleticism of its players, is evidence of a “solid business model.”
NOTE: This story originated from The Wall Street Journal.