Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Best Rebounders in NBA History: A New Perspective

When assessing the best rebounders in history, the typical method is to simply list who's totaled the most rebounds or perhaps rebounds per game. Obviously, there are problems with that. Guys with amazing longevity will collect huge totals for rebounds, not necessarily the best rebounders, and rebounds per game are controlled by playing time, pace and how many misses the other guys have (e.g. Wilt averaging a googolplex in the 60's.)

The next best method is to look at the percentage of available rebounds grabbed. I think this is actually more intuitive than total rebounds. What does 10 rebounds a game mean? Without context, it's meaningless, but saying Duncan grabbed 20% of the available rebounds yesterday is pretty self-explanatory. Since there are ten players on the court, he did the work of two men; hence, it's impressive.There's a problem with that, unfortunately. Offensive rebounds are distinct from defensive rebounds. It's not exactly fair to say someone is a worse rebounder when he plays at the top of the key, leaving him unable to grab more offensive rebounders like someone with no offensive who camps near the rim (hello, Reggie Evans.)

Instead I present the tables below of the best rebounders by career defensive rebounding percentage with a minimum minutes threshold of 7000 minutes. These are 22 individuals who have collected a quarter of all available defensive rebounds in their career. Isn't 7000 arbitrary? Yes, but pretty much every threshold used in NBA stats is. 7000 minutes is three seasons for a starter or a good chunk of a career for a role player like Fortson. I think 10,000 minutes might be a better limit, but lowering it to 7000 allows for some interesting guys worth of discussion. And unfortunately, seasons where defensive and offensive rebounds were not separated were not included.

Fortson and Evans played on the same team, each one battling each other at Rodman-esque prodigious rates on both sides of the floor. Roy Tarpley is somewhat forgotten, but he was fantastic at cleaning the glass. The big surprise? Bill Walton, even with his injuries is at the top of the list, followed by Swen Nater. And in an upset, Kevin Love has a slim lead for third over Rodman, whose presence on the offensive glass was otherwordly but on the defensive end he's "simply" very elite. It's an interesting cast, mixing notable big men like Duncan, Garnett and Mutombo with Gortat, Boozer and Dalembert. But there's no hiding under the rim on the offensive end here, and it doesn't matter how much you play; what matters is the rebounding.

Player
TRB/
game
PTS/
40 mins
ORB/
40 mins
DRB/
40 mins
TRB/
40 mins
ORB%
DRB%
Bill Walton
10.5
18.8
3.3
11.5
14.9
9.1
30.2
Swen Nater
10.8
17.1
4.4
10.8
15.3
11.9
30.1
Kevin Love
12.2
21.8
4.9
10.4
15.3
13.5
29.9
Dennis Rodman
13.1
9.3
6.0
10.6
16.6
17.2
29.6
Dwight Howard
12.9
20.3
4.0
10.3
14.3
12.0
29.3
Marcus Camby
9.8
12.9
3.6
9.6
13.3
10.5
27.9
Reggie Evans
6.9
8.3
5.0
9.3
14.4
14.9
27.7
Arvydas Sabonis
7.3
19.8
2.6
9.5
12.1
7.8
27.0
Roy Tarpley
10.0
18.9
5.2
9.8
15.0
14.2
26.9
Carlos Boozer
9.9
21.0
3.1
9.2
12.3
9.2
26.7
Tim Duncan
11.2
22.9
3.3
9.4
12.7
9.9
26.5
Dikembe Mutombo
10.3
12.8
4.1
9.3
13.4
11.9
26.2
Danny Fortson
7.2
16.4
5.4
9.0
14.4
15.0
26.2
Joel Przybilla
6.2
7.8
3.8
8.7
12.5
11.3
25.9
Dave Cowens
12.8
18.1
3.2
10.3
13.5
8.1
25.8
Kevin Garnett
10.5
21.2
2.6
9.0
11.6
7.7
25.7
Ben Wallace
9.6
7.8
4.3
8.8
13.1
12.3
25.6
Marcin Gortat
6.9
15.5
3.4
9.0
12.4
9.8
25.5
Samuel Dalembert
8.1
12.6
4.1
8.6
12.7
12.0
25.4
Blake Griffin
10.8
23.2
3.3
8.7
12.0
9.8
25.4
Emeka Okafor
10.0
15.5
4.1
8.4
12.5
11.9
25.1

Player
From
To
Games
Minutes
DRB
TRB
TRB/game
Bill Walton
1975
1987
468
13250
3820
4923
10.5
Swen Nater
1977
1984
489
13868
3759
5297
10.8
Kevin Love
2009
2013
287
9136
2369
3490
12.2
Dennis Rodman
1987
2000
911
28839
7625
11954
13.1
Dwight Howard
2005
2013
664
23965
6170
8582
12.9
Marcus Camby
1997
2013
963
28579
6881
9485
9.8
Reggie Evans
2003
2013
675
12980
3021
4659
6.9
Arvydas Sabonis
1996
2003
470
11375
2702
3436
7.3
Roy Tarpley
1987
1995
280
7476
1839
2803
10.0
Carlos Boozer
2003
2013
680
21918
5015
6737
9.9
Tim Duncan
1998
2013
1154
40652
9581
12949
11.2
Dikembe Mutombo
1992
2009
1196
36791
8551
12359
10.3
Danny Fortson
1998
2007
440
8832
1989
3184
7.2
Joel Przybilla
2001
2013
590
11725
2551
3662
6.2
Dave Cowens
1974
1983
524
19878
5122
6696
12.8
Kevin Garnett
1996
2013
1302
47195
10600
13656
10.5
Ben Wallace
1997
2012
1088
32085
7038
10482
9.6
Marcin Gortat
2008
2013
345
7637
1718
2368
6.9
Samuel Dalembert
2002
2013
754
19149
4113
6099
8.1
Blake Griffin
2011
2013
197
7104
1537
2128
10.8
Emeka Okafor
2005
2013
558
17832
3733
5563
10.0

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