Offensive Rebounding the key to the 2010 NBA Finals

People criticize Win Score because allegedly (but not actually), it “overvalues rebounding”.  As I wrote yesterday, the hidden assumption in their critiques is that scoring should be weighted more heavily because scoring is difficult whereas rebounding — somehow — is easy.

I believe this misconception arises because of the fact that somewhere in the range of 25% of all rebounds go uncontested by the offense.  I believe this to be a monster strategic blunder but for the moment lets take it for what its worth.

If the offensive team contested every single rebound I believe fans would see the value of an aggressive and successful rebounder, and they would see rebounding for what it is — a battle to produce or deny offensive rebounds.

If fans viewed rebounding as the art of producing and/or denying offensive rebounds, they would see more clearly its huge value in the sport of basketball.

The 2010 Finals is making this point manifest.  So far offensive rebounding has been the key to victory in the series. 

In the two games the Boston Celtics lost, their offensive rebounding percentages were 20% and 21%.   In the two games the Boston Celtics won, their offensive rebounding percentages were 31% and 38%.  Huge differences.

Scoring may be difficult (it actually isn’t — the average NBA player makes over 49% of his two point attempts).  But obtaining offensive rebounds, and keeping aggressive offensive rebounders off your defensive glass, is difficult as well.  If fans saw the game in that way I don’t think there would be nearly as much resistance to the idea that creating possessions is just as key to the sport of basketball as scoring points.

Footnote:  The average NBA team has an offensive rebounding percentage of 26.0%.  According to, the average offensive rebounding percentage on contested rebounds is 43.0%.  Furthermore, according to the charting work done by Ed Peterson, offensive efficiency ratings on possessions that include an offensive rebound is 116.0 pts/100 possessions, far above the norm.  Imagine how a team could benefit from extra emphasis on getting bodies on the offensive glass.

2 Responses to “Offensive Rebounding the key to the 2010 NBA Finals”

  1. brgulker Says:

    Something else that may factor in:

    Everyone who has played basketball at their local YMCA has grabbed a rebound (even if accidentally).

    Very few people who have played basketball at their local YMCA has made a stepback fadeaway 3 point shot as the shot clock expires with 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

    Hence, “Anyone can grab a rebound.”

  2. tywill33 Says:

    That’s true! People think rebounds are free, or easy.

    Plus I think they think rebounding has a lot to do with size, which it does. But that doesn’t equate to value in people’s minds because it doesn’t equate to skill.

    I owe you a book. Can you send your address to

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