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NBA's Leading Rebounders

Possession is nine tenths of the law goes the saying, and possession of the ball in your run of the mill NBA game is worth a considerable amount too. That's why you come across a lot of references to rebounding statistics, both those of players and teams.

The pure boards per game numbers seem pretty simplistic to our curious minds however, so in true 82games fashion we'll take a look at this question from a number of angles.

(All stats reflect games played through February 19th of the 2003-2004 season, and only includes players unless otherwise noted with at least 800 minutes played on the year.)

1) NBA Top Offensive Boarders
Rank
Player
Team
Off Reb%
1
Dampier
GSW
14.0%
2
Foster
IND
13.0%
3
Haywood
WAS
12.3%
4
Brand
LAC
12.1%
5
Gadzuric
MIL
11.9%
Since players have varying opportunities to pull down rebounds, rating them on a percentage basis makes the most sense.

With the exception of Brand, the leaders are guys who don't play big roles in the halfcourt offense, but instead crash the offensive glass!

2) NBA Top Defensive Boarders
Rank
Player
Team
Def Reb%
1
Garnett
MIN
26.7%
2
Camby
DEN
25.4%
3
Duncan
SAS
24.0%
4
Boozer
CLE
22.8%
5
Wallace
DET
22.5%

The top defensive rebounders feature some perennial all-stars in KG, Duncan and Big Ben. Part of Denver's success this year must also be credited to the fine play of Camby, and LeBron has a potent sidekick already in Mr. Boozer.

3) NBA Top Overall Rebounders
Rank
Player
Team
Reb. Rtg
1
Camby
DEN
35.6
2
Dampier
GSW
35.5
3
Garnett
MIN
35.3
4
Duncan
SAS
33.3
5
Wallace
DET
33.2
Adding together the Offensive Rebound % and Defensive Rebound % gives us the overall (simple) player rating. We'll be moving beyond that in the course of this article however!

Right now it's a tight three-way battle for top honors!

4) Player versus Counterpart
Sometimes the player who pulls down the rebound doesn't deserve as much credit as a teammate who blocks out the opposing glass-crashers. To look at the rebounding stats on another level we compared a player's own 48 minute production versus what his counterpart achieved while on the floor at the same time.
Rk
Player
Team
Reb48
Opp48
Net
1
Garnett
MIN
17.3
9.7
+7.6
2
Dampier
GSW
17.3
12.0
+5.3
3
Duncan
SAS
16.6
11.5
+5.1
4
Camby
DEN
17.3
12.6
+4.7
5
Randolph
POR
13.6
9.1
+4.5
6
Harpring
UTA
10.6
6.3
+4.3
7
Kidd
NJN
8.7
4.4
+4.3
8
Boozer
CLE
15.5
11.9
+3.6
9
Ming
HOU
13.4
10.0
+3.4
10
Howard
DAL
11.9
8.5
+3.4
Pretty compelling case here for Mr. Garnett although he doesn't often go head-to-head with the opposing team's center. Still, it's a dominant figure he puts up in this category.

We also catch a few players who have mismatches at the smaller positions, like Kidd, Harpring and Howard.

In case you are wondering, Cliff Robinson is at the bottom of the table with a -7.3 rebounds per 48 minutes net.

5) Best On Court Impact
For another way to gauge a player's rebounding skills in light of the above point that boxing out is a key factor, and working with your teammates to ensure the rebound doesn't fall into enemy hands is another, we'll take a look at the performance of the team in the rebounding department while a player is on the court.
Player
Team
Off%
Def%
Tm Net
Collins
UTA
35.9%
71.9%
53.9%
Kirilenko
UTA
38.5%
68.8%
53.6%
Wilcox
LAC
36.2%
70.1%
53.1%
Brand
LAC
39.8%
66.5%
53.1%
Stevenson
UTA
38.0%
68.3%
53.1%
Well it's an indictment of a stat when the top ten players no less come from two teams! Clearly what we are seeing is that the Jazz and the Clippers are good rebounding teams that put an emphasis in the gameplan on winning the battle of the boards each night.

6) On / Off Court Impact
So given the rebounding proficiency of teams can vary, the final twist is to compare the overall team rebounding performance with a player on court versus off court.
Offensive Rebounding
Player
Team
ON
OFF
Net
Jackson
SAC
33.6%
26.8%
+6.8%
Palacio
TOR
32.9%
26.1%
+6.8%
Jeffries
WAS
36.5%
30.0%
+6.5%
Jamison
DAL
35.6%
29.3%
+6.3%
Brand
LAC
39.8%
34.0%
+5.8%

Jackson and Jamison currently fill the 6th man scoring sparkplug roles, and not surprisingly have an inclination to look for the ball off the offensive glass. Brand meanwhile is simply a force in the paint. Palacio and Jeffries? Their influence is tougher to explain.
Defensive Rebounding
Player
Team
ON
OFF
Net
Randolph
POR
69.7%
61.8%
+7.9%
Grant
MIA
72.8%
67.2%
+5.6%
Collins
UTA
71.9%
66.8%
+5.1%
Miller
SAC
68.8%
63.9%
+4.9%
Nene
DEN
68.0%
63.2%
+4.8%

Randolph has been putting up big numbers, but how will that change now with Abdur-Rahim and Ratliff alongside? Nene on the other hand has seen his rebounds decline, but obviously does his part in making sure the ball ends up in Denver hands.
Total Rebounding
Player
Team
ON
OFF
Net
Jeffries
WAS
52.1%
47.6%
+4.5%
Thomas
PHI
51.3%
47.8%
+3.5%
Davis
CHI
51.9%
48.4%
+3.5%
Cardinal
GSW
51.9%
48.6%
+3.3%
DeClercq
ORL
50.5%
47.3%
+3.2%
Ford
MIL
50.9%
47.7%
+3.2%
Martin
NJN
50.7%
47.7%
+3.0%
Camby
DEN
51.1%
48.3%
+2.8%
Diaw
ATL
51.2%
48.4%
+2.8%
Haywood
WAS
51.4%
48.7%
+2.7%

In the final analysis we have to conclude that rebounding success is tied into a lot of other factors -- the offensive threat of launching a fast break, the spacing on the floor at both ends of the court, the type of shot allowed, etc.

The On/Off stats don't exactly bring the obvious rebounding studs to the top of the charts, but do pose some interesting questions -- why would point guard T.J. Ford bring about such a remarkable improvement in rebounding for the Bucks?

Who is the best?
We won't pretend like we can hand down the indisputable final verdict on this right now, but of all the looks above, the one stat that stands out is Kevin Garnett's personal matchup with his man: roughly 17 rebounds per 48 minutes for KG, and 10 for his opponent. You do the math.


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