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How old is the WNBA?
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pilight



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 11:21 am    ::: How old is the WNBA? Reply Reply with quote

More specifically, how old are the players? Are they older or younger than players in past seasons? Is there a trend? Let's take a look!

First, we need a standard of how old a player is in a given season. I decided to use their age as of 1 July, midway through the year. Next, criteria. I counted three areas for each season: mean age of players, median age of players, and percentage of players who are under 30. Results...

Code:
Year     mean age     median age     % under 30

1997      26.51          25.5           74.2
1998      26.31          26             75.6
1999      26.64          25             75.3
2000      26.07          25             81.4
2001      26.09          25             80.2
2002      26.22          25             78.9
2003      26.68          26             79.1
2004      26.13          25             81.7
2005      26.10          25             80.3
2006      25.98          25             79.7
2007      26.15          25             79.7
2008      26.08          25             81.3
2009      26.49          26             78.0
2010*     26.50          26             80.4


* season incomplete, numbers could change

I'm somewhat surprised that the mean age has remained so stable. The high (in 2003) and the low (in 2006) are just 0.7 different. The median has been even more unchanging, sitting at 25 or 26 every year.

You can see the effect of the great expansion of 2000, as the mean age dropped and percentage of players under 30 jumped. By the time teams started folding (after 2002) many of the older, original players were done. That's why the percent of under 30s has remained higher than it was the first few years and why the jump in mean age in 2003 washed out almost immediately.

You can also see the effect of the 11 player roster. Mean and median ages have jumped as teams are less able to keep an extra rookie or developmental player. In fact, the only years (besides 1997) when the league has been older than it is now were 2003, when two teams folded, and 1999, when there was an influx of players from the recently folded ABL. Both those events squeezed out younger players, much like the shorter roster is doing now.

EDITED to correct 1997 for a dumb circular reference in my spreadsheet.



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Last edited by pilight on 07/29/10 12:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
Bretter



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 11:42 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

I wonder what these numbers look like for the NBA (not that I'm suggesting anyone to waste the time). Hey, so we DO have some stability in this league to be proud of Cool


BGfangirl



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 11:45 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Holy smokes did you actually go though hundreds of players ages and add them/ divide them, go through them to find which age is in the middle etc? How did you do that and how long did it take?


pilight



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 11:50 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

BGfangirl wrote:
Holy smokes did you actually go though hundreds of players ages and add them/ divide them, go through them to find which age is in the middle etc? How did you do that and how long did it take?


Yes.

It didn't take that long. I already had the seasonal ages databased. Spreadsheets are wonderful things.



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ClayK



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 12:34 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

What's interesting to me is that the average age doesn't change much over time. It tells me that the physical and mental combination that results in a WNBA player is pretty much a constant. You have to be young enough to be quick and fast, but old enough to be smart and strong.



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StevenHW



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 12:38 pm    ::: Re: How old is the WNBA? Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
[snip]...In fact, the only years when the league has been older than it is now were 2003, when two teams folded...[snip]...


2003 was also the year a 40-year-old "rookie" Teresa Edwards made her WNBA debut with the Minnesota Lynx. So, I wonder if she was also a factor for the age increase. Wink


Nerd2



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 12:40 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

And of course we have the statistical outlier - Nancy Lieberman - who played one whole game so she could be "the oldest player to play in the WNBA." Sorry, Nancy, but in my mind it is Taj McWilliams-Franklin.


pilight



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 12:46 pm    ::: Re: How old is the WNBA? Reply Reply with quote

StevenHW wrote:
pilight wrote:
[snip]...In fact, the only years when the league has been older than it is now were 2003, when two teams folded...[snip]...


2003 was also the year a 40-year-old "rookie" Teresa Edwards made her WNBA debut with the Minnesota Lynx. So, I wonder if she was also a factor for the age increase. Wink


50 year old Nancy Lieberman was counted in 2008. One player doesn't make that much impact. I accidentally included the year in the 1999 calculation the first time and the mean was still under 40.

177 players played in the WNBA in 2003. Each year of age adds .00565 to the mean.



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pilight



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 12:53 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Nerd2 wrote:
And of course we have the statistical outlier - Nancy Lieberman - who played one whole game so she could be "the oldest player to play in the WNBA." Sorry, Nancy, but in my mind it is Taj McWilliams-Franklin.


There have been a couple of other players who were older than Taj is now when they played.



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 12:59 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
Nerd2 wrote:
And of course we have the statistical outlier - Nancy Lieberman - who played one whole game so she could be "the oldest player to play in the WNBA." Sorry, Nancy, but in my mind it is Taj McWilliams-Franklin.


There have been a couple of other players who were older than Taj is now when they played.


Cool, I did not know that. Teresa Edwards is clearly one, who were others? And were they starters?


StevenHW



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 1:02 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Nerd2 wrote:
pilight wrote:
Nerd2 wrote:
And of course we have the statistical outlier - Nancy Lieberman - who played one whole game so she could be "the oldest player to play in the WNBA." Sorry, Nancy, but in my mind it is Taj McWilliams-Franklin.


There have been a couple of other players who were older than Taj is now when they played.


Cool, I did not know that. Teresa Edwards is clearly one, who were others? And were they starters?


How old was Wanda Guyton when she last played in the WNBA? Maybe not quite 40, but she's gotta be fairly close. And there's Sheryl Swoopes and Yo Griffith, in response to Pilight's post.


pilight



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 1:29 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Nerd2 wrote:
pilight wrote:
Nerd2 wrote:
And of course we have the statistical outlier - Nancy Lieberman - who played one whole game so she could be "the oldest player to play in the WNBA." Sorry, Nancy, but in my mind it is Taj McWilliams-Franklin.


There have been a couple of other players who were older than Taj is now when they played.


Cool, I did not know that. Teresa Edwards is clearly one, who were others? And were they starters?


The answer was a popular Trivia Time quiz a while back...

http://boards.rebkell.net/viewtopic.php?t=57431



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PUmatty



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 2:50 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Are you factoring in the number of games played by a player, or does every player who played at least in one game count the same? I would imagine that this would effect the results - the players added in one-week contracts, etc., tend to be younger, which would skew the results younger.


pilight



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 3:02 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

PUmatty wrote:
Are you factoring in the number of games played by a player, or does every player who played at least in one game count the same? I would imagine that this would effect the results - the players added in one-week contracts, etc., tend to be younger, which would skew the results younger.


I counted every player the same. A weighted average would probably be older and even more stable.



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ChasingRatDogmaSalade



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 8:28 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

PUmatty wrote:
Are you factoring in the number of games played by a player, or does every player who played at least in one game count the same?


I used to weigh based on minutes played.

From an old Full Court Press column ...

Age is only a number.

You know who says that? Old people.

But age, and the experience that comes with it, have proven to be valuable commodities over the years in the WNBA.

At the beginning of each season, the WNBA sends out some biological statistical information on each team, or at least they used to. I cant remember if I have seen it the past few years. This information included the average height, weight, and age of each team. When figuring the average age of each team, all they do (or did) was add up the ages of each player on the roster and divide by the number of players on the roster.

This makes sense, of course. That is the definition of average after all. However, from an analysis standpoint I prefer to determine the age of a team in a different manner. The reason being that each players contribution to the team is not necessarily equal to that of the other players on the team. Why should the 34-year-old who only plays five minutes a game off the bench carry as much weight as the 27-year-old who logs 32 minutes each night?

She shouldnt, which is why I prefer to determine a teams age by weighing each players age by the minutes they played in a given year.

From this point forward, when I refer to a teams age or the leagues age I am referring to my version of the term.


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PostPosted: 07/29/10 8:28 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The Success of Old vs. Young
So how do younger teams do vs. older teams?

It would appear that the older teams have the edge. The average age over the course of the league is 27.3. The average age of championship teams during that same time is 27.9. The average age of playoff teams is also 27.9 and the average age of teams with winning records is 28.0.

That might not seem like much, but lets look at it another way. Of the 70 teams that have made the postseason in the past 10 years, 60 percent have been older than average. Of the 65 teams that have posted winning records since the WNBAs debut, 67.2 percent have been older than average. The difference hasnt been quite as large over the past several years since the Comets stopped winning their championships, but it still exists in 2006, six of eight playoff teams were above the league age average.

Championship teams, however, have been slightly below the league average over the past four seasons: The Detroit Shock, at 24.2 years, were the youngest WNBA title winner in history. The following year, the Seattle Storm (28.3) were just under the league average of 28.4. The Sacramento Monarchs, at 27.9, were under the league average of 28.6, and in 2006 the Shock were right at the league average of 27.9.


ChasingRatDogmaSalade



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 8:29 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Expansion
When the league expands, it gets younger. In 1998, the WNBA added two teams and the average age dropped from 27.3 to 27.0. In 2000, the WNBA added four teams and the average age dropped from 27.3 to 26.6. In 2006 when the WNBA added one team, the average age dropped from 28.6 to 27.9.

The lone exception to the expansion trend is in 1999 when not only did the WNBA add two teams, but some 40 players came into the league from the ABL. In that season the average age increased from 27.0 to 27.3.

During years of contraction, the league gets older. In 2003, the WNBA disbanded two teams and the average age increased from 26.6 to 27.3. In 2004, the league dropped one team and the average age increased from 27.3 to 28.4. So look for the average age to increase in 2007.

Oldest and Youngest
The oldest team in league history was the 2005 version of the Houston Comets (32.0)
The oldest championship team in league history was the 1999 Houston Comets (29.7)
The youngest team in league history was the 2002 version of the Minnesota Lynx (24.0)
The youngest championship team in league history was the 2003 Detroit Shovck (24.2)

Random Notes
The Minnesota Lynx have never had a team that was older than the league average.
The Houston Comets have never had a team that was younger than the league average.
From 1997-2003 there were no 30-year-old teams.
Since 2004, there have been six 30-year-old teams.
The first 30-year-old teams were the 2004 Charlotte Sting (30.Cool and Sacramento Monarchs (30.3).


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PostPosted: 07/29/10 8:30 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Below is the information from each WNBA season. W = a winning record; P = a playoff team; C = a championship team.

THESE COLUMNS WON'T WORK HERE

1997
Team Age W P C
Houston 28.8 w p c
Cleveland 28.1 w
Phoenix 28.0 w p
Sacramento 27.7
New York 27.6 w p
Charlotte 27.1 w p
Los Angeles 25.6
Utah 25.4

Average 27.3

1998
Team Age W P C
Houston 29.1 w p c
New York 28.5 w
Detroit 28.0 w
Cleveland 28.0 w p
Phoenix 27.5 w p
Los Angeles 26.8
Charlotte 26.5 w p
Utah 25.6
Sacramento 25.1
Washington 25.0

Average 27.0

1999
Team Age W P C
Houston 29.7 w p c
New York 29.3 w p
Phoenix 29.2
Charlotte 28.3 p
Utah 28.1
Cleveland 27.2
Detroit 27.1 p
Minnesota 27.1
Sacramento 26.3 w p
Orlando 25.8
Los Angeles 24.9 w p
Washington 24.9

Average 27.3

2000
Team Age W P C
Houston 29.6 w p c
New York 28.4 w p
Phoenix 28.3 w p
Charlotte 27.5
Sacramento 27.2 w p
Utah 27.0 w
Seattle 26.6
Miami 26.6
Washington 26.3 p
Orlando 26.1 p
Cleveland 26.0 w p
Detroit 25.7
Portland 25.6
Indiana 24.8
Los Angeles 24.8 w p
Minnesota 24.2

Average 26.5

2001
Team Age W P C
New York 29.3 w p
Utah 28.2 w p
Houston 28.1 w p
Miami 27.8 w p
Charlotte 27.7 w p
Phoenix 27.6
Washington 27.3
Sacramento 27.0 w p
Los Angeles 26.3 w p c
Detroit 26.2
Portland 26.1
Seattle 25.6
Orlando 25.6
Indiana 25.2
Cleveland 25.1 w p
Minnesota 24.3

Average 26.7

2002
Team Age W P C
Utah 29.0 w p
Houston 28.7 w p
Sacramento 28.7
New York 28.3 w p
Charlotte 28.0 w p
Miami 27.6
Los Angeles 27.1 w p c
Orlando 26.5
Washington 26.2 w p
Indiana 26.0 p
Phoenix 26.0
Portland 25.6
Cleveland 25.4
Seattle 24.5 w p
Detroit 24.2
Minnesota 24.0

Average 26.6

2003
Team Age W P C
New York 29.9
Houston 29.2 w p
Sacramento 28.7 w p
Charlotte 28.7 w p
San Antonio 28.4
Los Angeles 28.1 w p
Connecticut 27.9 w p
Minnesota 27.3 w p
Indiana 26.9
Seattle 26.6 w
Washington 25.4
Cleveland 25.2 p
Phoenix 25.1
Detroit 24.2 w p c

Average 27.3

2004
Team 2004 W P C
Charlotte 30.8
Sacramento 30.3 w p
New York 29.8 w p
Los Angeles 29.5 w p
Houston 29.1
San Antonio 29.0
Connecticut 28.7 w p
Seattle 28.3 w p c
Minnesota 27.6 w p
Indiana 27.4
Washington 26.9 p
Detroit 26.3 p
Phoenix 25.5

Average 28.4

2005
Team 2005 W P C
Houston 32.0 w p
New York 30.2 w p
Charlotte 30.0
Indiana 29.3 w p
Washington 28.9
Connecticut 28.6 w p
Los Angeles 28.5 p
San Antonio 28.1
Sacramento 27.9 w p c
Minnesota 27.3
Detroit 27.2 p
Phoenix 26.8
Seattle 26.5 w p

Average 28.6

2006
Team Age W P C
Houston 31.9 w p
Washington 29.7 w p
Sacramento 28.9 w p
Connecticut 28.6 w p
Indiana 28.5 w p
Los Angeles 28.2 w p
Detroit 27.9 w p c
Charlotte 27.4
San Antonio 27.4
Phoenix 27.2
Seattle 27.0 w p
New York 26.7
Chicago 25.7
Minnesota 25.4

Average 27.9


pilight



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 8:37 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

ChasingRatDogmaSalade wrote:
At the beginning of each season, the WNBA sends out some biological statistical information on each team, or at least they used to. I cant remember if I have seen it the past few years.


They used to send out a lot of things they don't send out anymore.

I was planning to work on weighted averages this weekend. It will take a little more work than the straight numbers.



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ChasingRatDogmaSalade



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PostPosted: 07/29/10 8:45 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
ChasingRatDogmaSalade wrote:
At the beginning of each season, the WNBA sends out some biological statistical information on each team, or at least they used to. I cant remember if I have seen it the past few years.


They used to send out a lot of things they don't send out anymore.

I was planning to work on weighted averages this weekend. It will take a little more work than the straight numbers.


Shoot me your email addy. I have XL sheets through 2007 I believe.


TDAO



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PostPosted: 07/30/10 2:11 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

I can do weighted averages pretty easy. Let me look at that this afternoon.


TDAO



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PostPosted: 07/30/10 4:53 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

This is based on approximately the end of the regular season (9/20).

Code:
1997    27.9
1998    27.6
1999    28.0
2000    27.2
2001    27.5
2002    27.5
2003    27.9
2004    27.5
2005    27.7
2006    27.2
2007    27.4
2008    27.5
2009    27.8
2010    28.0


For comparison to the NBA: http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=571[/code]


pilight



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PostPosted: 08/24/10 2:24 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

I did weighted averages for all the seasons. Got slightly different results, probably because I used ages as of 1 July instead of September. The pattern holds fairly well, however...

Code:
Year     mean age     median age    weighted average     % under 30

1997      26.51          25.5             27.22             74.2
1998      26.31          26               26.91             75.6
1999      26.64          25               27.29             75.3
2000      26.07          25               26.51             81.4
2001      26.09          25               26.77             80.2
2002      26.22          25               26.74             78.9
2003      26.68          26               27.21             79.1
2004      26.13          25               26.75             81.7
2005      26.10          25               26.99             80.3
2006      25.98          25               26.51             79.7
2007      26.15          25               26.68             79.7
2008      26.08          25               26.85             81.3
2009      26.49          26               27.07             78.0
2010      26.50          26               27.32             80.6



This season has the highest weighted average age in league history. That's the effect of the 11 player roster, thin drafts the last few years, and the injury prone-ness of the of 2008 class. The difference between the highest and lowest is 0.81 years, a little under 10 months, and has been extremely stable.



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PostPosted: 08/24/10 2:51 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

I'm guessing the 11 player roster made it harder for young players to make it, but the lowered salary cap squeezed out some vets and so the net effect was zero.

The recent drafts might seem weaker than they really are because of the stiffer competition.



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GlennMacGrady



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PostPosted: 08/24/10 2:57 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Interesting, but the league stats divorced from any correlations don't seem significant to me in a subjective sense and, I suspect, in any statistical sense.

When correlated with specific teams and then championships, for example, it gets more interesting.

What would we expect to see if we correlated age with a performance stat such as scoring or rebounding -- a slope, a bell curve, ???


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