Rebounds: The Single Most Important Stat in Basketball
Blog. Blog. Blog. Even the most casual basketball fan has heard of the 'slam dunk' or the '3-pointer' - but not everyone knows about the single most important stat in basketball, the REBOUND. Rebounds don't get much shine and don't expect to see a rebound highlight appear on "Court Cuts" but if the game is all about winning then rebounds are the catalyst.
Think of a rebound as a second chance. Let me paint you a picture using the Raptors as an example: The Raps are playing great D for 24 seconds, hands are up disrupting passing lanes, they're closing out on shooters, calling out screens and this defensive intensity leads to a desperation 3 pointer taken to avoid a shot clock violation. The ball leaves the opposing player's fingertips and sails through the air towards the basket. 5 sets of Raptors eyes gaze at the ball in flight - the Raps point guard is anticipating a fast break, the shooting guard has made his way down court hoping to be the recipient of a long pass for an easy 2 but all the while not a single player on the home team has put a body on anyone - the opposing team snatches the rebound and settles in for another offensive possession. The Raps, having just played terrific D (a rarity) are deflated by the missed opportunity and lack the intensity they had the possession before thus they give up an easy bucket.
Clear enough for ya?
All the best teams rebound successfully. With those rebounds they are able to control the pace of the game. When you can limit your opposition to a single shot every time down the floor you increase your chances of winning tremendously. Quality defense is wasted if the possession does not culminate with a defensive rebound.
The Western conference has had a lock on the NBA for years because teams in the West controlled the boards. I'm not just talking about the big men either - to be a successful rebounding team everyone on the floor must be an active rebounder. Players must resist the temptation to leak out down the floor - first, secure the basketball, control the tempo, come down the court and run your offensive set.
GM's around the league understand the importance of rebounds and it has translated to the stocks of big men rising. Just look at some of the most recent number 1 overall draft picks - Dwight Howard, Greg Oden and Blake Griffin. These are big guys who control the offensive and defensive boards, granted the latter two haven't panned out due to injury problems, but still you see the direction the NBA is headed.
More and more players are being held accountable as rebounders. Lebron James, arguably the best basketball player on the planet has used the same athleticism he displays while scoring to snatch rebounds that he really has no right to. Look at Rajon Rondo, the Boston Celtics point guard. Questions surrounded the young point guard's ability to score and distribute the basketball to his play makers, so what did he do? He crashed the boards - earning the respect of Kevin Garnett and in the process an NBA championship.
Still have doubts about rebounds? Tune into the next Raptor game and pay attention to the rebound differential - shout out Amir Johnson.