NBA Power Rankings: Kevin Love and the 10 Best Rebounders in the League
On Friday night, Kevin Love became the first NBA player in 28 years to score 30-plus points and gather 30-plus rebounds in the same game, with his 31-point, 31-rebound effort against the New York Knicks.
The last player to come up with a 30-30 night? Moses Malone, all the way back in 1982. And no NBA player had gathered 30 rebounds in a night since Charles Barkley did in 1996.
So, yeah, Love had a pretty solid game, to say the least.
Sure, we can chalk up part of Love's breakout game to his opponent. I don't think anyone has ever accused Mike D'Antoni, the Knicks coach, or Amar'e Stoudemire, the current Knicks starting center, of being too preoccupied with defense.
Still, not every player who faces the Knicks pulls down 31 rebounds in a given night. Love's defensive intensity and true passion for rebounding played a huge factor in his monster game too.
Ironically, Love wrote a blog post for GQ this week about his perspective on rebounding: "For me, rebounding is all a mindset. My dad told me back in the day that there is no such thing as a selfish rebound because it's a team stat. If you have to fight one of your own teammates for a rebound, do it—as long as you get it."
In honor of Kevin Love and his monster 31-31 night, we present you with the 10 best rebounders in the NBA today.
Note: The offensive, defensive and total rebounding rate statistics used are all courtesy of Hoopdata.com. For ORR, DRR and TRR, only players that average 20-plus minutes were included in the league-wide rankings.
Glossary (from Basketball-Reference.com):
ORR: Offensive rebounding rate, or the percentage of available offensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor.
DRR: Defensive rebounding rate, or the percentage of available defensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor.
TRR: Total rebounding rate, or the percentage of available total rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor.
Not on This List: Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Harry How/Getty Images
ORR: 10.3 (29) DRR: 21.6 (34) TRR: 16.2 (31) RPG: 11.9 (3)
No. 28 in TRR in 2009-10
Let's get the elephant out of the room right away: Yes, on this list of the league's 10 best rebounders, you're not going to find the guy whose 11.9 rebound-per-game average is third in the NBA currently—Pau Gasol.
Is his exclusion due to his carrying around the 'soft European' perception? Nope. I'm well aware that he, not the Celtics, played the bully role in the post for a good portion of last year's NBA Finals.
Maybe I'm a self-hating white guy and can't take Gasol seriously because of his race, you say? Given the title of this slideshow, I'm not even addressing that one.
Gasol isn't on here for one reason and one reason only: One glance at his advanced rebounding metrics reveals that he deserves to be nowhere near a top 10 rebounders list.
Last year, Gasol finished 28th in the league in total rebound rate. This year, he's currently ranked 31st. His ORR of 10.3 ranks 29th in the league and his DRR of 21.6 is good for 34th in the league.
In other words, while he may be gobbling up an obscene amount of rebounds early on, keep in mind that: a) the Lakers have been playing a more up-tempo pace, resulting in more possessions; b) Gasol has been averaging 38 minutes/game this year, which can only go down as the season goes on; and c) the Lakers don't have Andrew Bynum at their disposal yet.
10. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
ORR: 13.2 (12) DRR: 24.7 (28) TRR: 18.8 (16) RPG: 11.2 (6)
No. 15 in TRR in 2009-10
In three of the past four seasons, Randolph has posted 20 point and 10 rebound season averages. And after coming to Memphis, Randolph averaged a career-high 11.7 rebounds per game this past season.
Randolph finished ranked 15th overall in total rebound rate in 2009-10 and, as a result, he earned his first All-Star berth.
After getting off to a rocky start this season and missing four games, Randolph managed to right the ship by posting three straight double-doubles, including a 23-point, 20-rebound effort in a win against the Suns this past Monday.
His rebounding rate numbers so far this year rank outside of the top 10, but coupled with his 11.2 rebound per game average, which ranks sixth in the NBA currently, the statistics paint the picture of one of the NBA's best rebounders today.
9. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
ORR: 4.9 (43) DRR: 32.7(3) TRR: 19.0 (12) RPG: 10.6 (11)
No. 29 in TRR in 2009-10
After suffering through an injury-plagued season last year, when his total rebound rate ranked 29th overall in the NBA, the old K.G. appears to have returned this year.
His 10.6 rebound per game average currently ranks 11th in the NBA, but Garnett's advanced rebounding metrics reveal the extent to which Garnett is dominating defensively.
His defensive rebounding rate, 32.7, is good for third overall in the NBA as of Saturday night. Considering how far Garnett fell last season, the sight of him near the top of the NBA leaderboard in defensive rebounding should conjure some terrible memories for the rest of the league.
While his offensive rebounding rate of 4.9 is putrid, a large part of that can be chalked up to the Celtics' addition of the two O'Neals to the frontcourt. (K.G. doesn't need to bang down low and beat up his body when he's got The Big Shamrock on his team.)
If Garnett can manage to keep his 34-year-old self away from injuries this year, the Celtics' defensive leader appears like he's got at least one more run in those beat up legs of his.
8. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
ORR: 12.6 (15) DRR: 23.9 (25) TRR: 18.2 (17) RPG: 10.9 (8)
N/A in TRR in 2009-10
NBA fans may have been forced to wait an extra year for the professional debut of Blake Griffin, the No. 1 pick in 2009. But he's only managed to exceed the hype thus far this season.
Griffin busted out a 20-point, 14-rebound effort on opening night against the Portland Trail Blazers (including nine offensive rebounds), and he's been off to the Rookie of the Year races ever since.
His 10.9-rebound average ranks seventh overall in the NBA, and he's already posted five double-doubles in his first 10 career games. What's been most impressive about Griffin so far has to be his offensive rebounding ability: He's gathering an average of 3.8 offensive boards per game for the Clippers this season.
When you've got someone cleaning up that well on the offensive glass, you've got the first step to having a dominant frontcourt in the NBA. If only Chris Kaman could stop pulling his Houdini act this season…
7. Samuel Dalembert, Sacramento Kings
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
ORR: 15.8 (4) DRR: 25.4 (14) TRR: 20.3 (5) RPG: 8.4 (26)
No. 5 in TRR in 2009-10
Dalembert is the first player (but not the last) on this list that would be considered a defensive/rebounding specialist.
Yes, Dalembert largely earned that defensive-specialist title by demonstrating a remarkable ability not to be able to knock down a jumper outside of 10 feet from the basket.
But his rebounding acumen alone has earned him 30 minutes per game throughout the course of his career. After finishing fifth overall in total rebounding rate last season, Dalembert has managed to pick up right where he left off, as he's currently ranked fifth in the league in TRR this season.
Dalembert's true rebounding strength has always come on the offensive glass, and this season has been no different thus far. Sammy D is gobbling up an incredible 15.8 percent of the offensive boards available to him, which will carve him out a niche in Sacramento's crowded frontcourt all season.
6. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
ORR: 8.0 (28) DRR: 29.5 (5) TRR: 19.2 (10) RPG: 10.0 (13)
No. 11 in TRR in 2009-10
Like Garnett before him, Duncan's place on this list was earned by a decade-long stint of dominance on the boards that still refuses to fade to this day.
Ever since entering the league in 1997, Duncan has averaged a double-double each-and-every season. His career averages of 21.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game speak for themselves. Duncan is, unquestionably, the best power forward of the 2000s (sorry, K.G.).
And, remarkably, the 34-year-old Duncan's scoring averages may be down early in the season, but he's been his same old brutally-efficient self on the glass. Duncan's average of 10 boards per game puts him 13th in the league this season, and his total rebounding rate of 19.2 ranks 10th overall.
Much like Garnett, Duncan is making his impact felt most on the defensive glass, as he's gobbling up nearly 30 percent of the rebounds available to him defensively. And when Duncan's playing at that level, it should be no surprise to see the Spurs cruising along on a six-game win streak at 7-1.
5. Marcus Camby, Portland Trail Blazers
Harry How/Getty Images
ORR: 13.0 (14) DRR: 29.2 (6) TRR: 20.8 (3) RPG: 10.2 (12)
No. 1 (LAC) and No. 4 (POR) in TRR in 2009-10
While Camby's not as offensively limited as a guy like Samuel Dalembert, he's certainly on the court more for his defensive prowess. His highest scoring average came during his rookie year—a year when he only averaged 6.3 boards per game.
Soon, Camby dedicated himself more towards the defensive side of the ball, his scoring average dropped to somewhere around 10 points per game, and he started averaging over 11 rebounds per game for nearly a decade.
Last season with the Clippers, Camby's total rebound rate outpaced the entire rest of the league. As if to prove that wasn't a fluke, when Camby arrived in Portland, he immediately proceeded to post the fourth-best TRR in the league.
This season, with Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla still recovering from injuries, Camby picked up right where he left off. He's only three-tenths of a percentage point behind Tim Duncan's defensive rebounding rate, and his TRR of 20.8 currently ranks third in the league. That 10.2 RPG average isn't anything to sneeze at either, given that Camby is averaging just under 30 minutes per game this season.
4. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
ORR: 13.0 (13) DRR: 26.9 (10) TRR: 20.4 (4) RPG: 13.9 (2)
No. 8 in TRR in 2009-10
Still think it's ridiculous that the Bulls wouldn't include Noah in a trade for Carmelo Anthony?
Noah came out on fire this season, fresh off a five-year, $60 million extension, opening up his season with an 18-point, 19-rebound, two-block effort in a loss against the Thunder. He hasn't slowed down since, especially on the defensive end.
His 13.9 rebounds per game average currently ranks second in the NBA, only behind Kevin Love. Given that Love's 31-rebound night will skew the RPG stats with only a 10-game sample size, Noah's asserting himself early as a favorite for the league's rebounding title (Watch out, Dwight!).
And the advanced metrics reveal that Noah's early explosion on the boards is no fluke. After finishing eighth in the league in total rebounding rate last season, Noah ranks fourth overall in the early going this year.
Noah's ability to run the floor and his high-octane motor will help him outwork 90 percent of the centers in the league, especially in the regular season. There's no reason to expect his RPG totals will plummet too far as we get further into the season. Noah's breakout on the boards is legit, folks.
3. Reggie Evans, Toronto Raptors
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
ORR: 18.0 (2) DRR: 34.1 (1) TRR: 25.7 (1) RPG: 11.8 (4)
N/A in TRR in 2009-10 (didn't avg 20 min/game)
When you look up rebounding specialist in the dictionary, Reggie Evans' face should be there.
Evans' career scoring average, in just over 19 minutes per game, is 4.2 ppg. In other words, Evans makes Samuel Dalembert look like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on offense—and that says something.
After Chris Bosh took his talents to South Beach this summer, the Raptors had a gigantic hole up front they needed to address. While Andrea Bargnani has adopted most of Bosh's scoring load, Evans has been the man responsible for pulling down every board in sight.
So far, so good for Evans. In 27.7 minutes per game, he's averaging 11.8 rebounds, good for fourth in the NBA. His advanced rebounding metrics prove his rebounding dominance across the board: He's second in the league in ORR, first in the league in DRR and first in the league in TRR.
Having just seen him out-muscle Dwight Howard in crunch-time in the Raptors' win over the Magic on Friday night, it's tough to put him below Howard on this list. Then again, with Evans never looking for his own shot, he never has to worry about getting offensive fouls called on him. Howard is expected to do much more offensively for his team, yet he still dominates on the boards and with blocks.
It's just a shame Evans had to sit out last night's game against the Heat due to flu-like symptoms. After seeing Joey Dorsey gather 11 rebounds in 16 minutes, is it totally unfathomable that we could have seen back-to-back 30-rebound nights if Evans had played?
2. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Marc Serota/Getty Images
ORR: 8.4 (23) DRR: 29.5 (4) TRR: 18.9 (14) RPG: 10.6 (10)
No. 2 in TRR in 2009-10
When a guy leads the league in rebounds per game for three straight years and total rebounds gathered for the past five straight years, there's no way he's going below Reggie Evans on a list of the NBA's best rebounders.
Howard hasn't averaged under 12.3 rebounds per game in any of the past five seasons, and he's managed to take on an increased scoring load for the Magic without any adverse effects on his rebounding totals.
Last year, Howard finished second overall in total rebounding rate, which makes his current rank of 14th this year all the more surprising. Howard is averaging a career-high in scoring, with 21.6 points per game so far this season, but his 10.6 rebounds per game average is his lowest since his rookie season.
There's one obvious culprit to Howard's decreased rebounding totals so far: his (lack of) work on the offensive glass. Howard had never averaged fewer than 3.4 offensive rebounds per game before this season. So far this year, he's only snaring 2.6 offensive boards a game.
A lot of Howard's struggles on the offensive boards can be chalked up to foul trouble—he's been tacked with five fouls in each of the Magic's past five games. And given that bigs often get ticky-tack fouls called on them while positioning themselves for offensive rebounds, it'd be no surprise if Howard has been more hesitant than usual on the offensive glass.
Still, the season is young. If we've learned anything about Howard in the past five years, it's that he'll get himself back to being on a short list of candidates for the league's rebounding title soon enough.
1. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
ORR: 17.6 (3) DRR: 33.9 (2) TRR: 25.1 (2), RPG: 14.6 RPG (1)
No. 7 in TRR in 2009-10
One of the best features in this past year's NBA Finals was a sit-down interview between Kobe Bryant and Jackie MacMullan in Kobe's film room, where he pointed out how he stole all his best offensive moves from NBA legends like Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Oscar Robertson.
Kevin Love may very well be the defensive version of Kobe in that case.
In that GQ post of his that went online Thursday, Love wrote: "I studied the greats. Dennis Rodman had it figured out: he knew that most shots are going to come to the other side of the rim. So that's how I position myself. And Bill Russell always used to say that 80 percent of rebounds are below the rim. I'm not the kind of guy who's going to jump and touch the top of the square every time. I use my body for positioning, and I work relentlessly underneath the rim. You don't have to be the most athletic guy in the world to get a bunch of rebounds..."
Love is absolutely right—not every legendary NBA rebounder gets blessed with Dwight Howard's body. Charles Barkley can vouch for that. And yet the Round Mound of Rebound managed to carve out his place on the NBA's Mount Rushmore of rebounders. So, why can't Love?
Love's study of the craft of rebounding—of the fundamentals, the footwork, the philosophies behind dominant rebounders—has already started paying dividends, as evidenced by his 31-rebound explosion on Friday.
And his advanced rebounding metrics reveal that Love's early dominance isn't going anywhere, as he ranks third overall in ORR, second in DRR and second in TRR so far this season.
Unless Howard picks up his work on the offensive glass this season, Kevin Love is far and away the best rebounder the NBA currently has to offer.