Sunday, November 20, 2016

Notes on Rebounding

As I've written previously, no NBA team could draw more marginal value from Dwight Howard's rebounding ability than the Atlanta Hawks. The freedom (which wasn't certain, at least in my mind) Budenholzer has granted him to attack the offensive glass is massively valuable and may well buoy the offense to league average levels, rather than languishing in the bottom third of the league, as I expected.

But, because of how rebounding works, Howard's gaudy, legitimately valuable rebounding totals are two-thirds defensive rebounds and, though he has improved the team's defensive rebounding, therefore broadening the solidity of the defense, all of those defensive rebounds he's grabbing aren't exactly new defensive rebounds for the Hawks.

The joint defensive versatility of Paul Millsap and Al Horford both mitigated the on-the-ball perimeter defensive limitations of their teammates and pressured the opposition into turnovers. The risk of this utility was that at least one of those two was often out of defensive rebounding position when opponents got a shot off. This put tremendous pressure on the wings to box out larger and/or more athletic players. Effort-wise, the wings were exceptional. Results showed the limitations of asking the willing to do something slightly beyond their physical capabilities.

With Howard on the court, the wings aren't asked to do this. Thus, Howard is getting both new defensive rebounds and some of the rebounds for which Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha and Kyle Korver used to battle.

Defensive rebound %
Name 2015-16 2016-17
Horford 18.2% --
Howard -- 31.4%
Bazemore 18.0% 10.3%
Sefolosha 17.1% 13.7%
Korver 10.9% 9.3%


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