Last week in this space we got our nerd on, as Vanilla Ice would almost definitely say, "to the extreme," using all manner of chart and graph to understand which advanced metrics could help us better understand rebounding.
In summary, here's what we found:
1. That Rebounds per 40 (or any other amount of) Minutes is no less accurate than Total Rebound Rate.
2. That rebounding rates (per minute, per missed shot, whatever) appear to remain pretty constant one year to the next.
3. That shifts in per-game rebounding averages for players are almost entirely the product of changes in playing time.
In this week's dispatch from the front lines of basketball nerdom, we'll shift our attention from these larger, conceptual matters to some actual specific cases.
Specifically, we'll look at players across all five positions who we might consider breakout candidates for rebounding.
Each of the players below is currently averaging fewer than 20 minutes per game, but, owing to his per-minute rebounding rate, would likely produce well in that category given more playing time. Furthermore, players are arranged by position, with each player assigned to his "smallest" position -- i.e. the one where his rebounding skills would have the biggest possible effect. (Position qualifications courtesy of CBS Sports fantasy.)
Player: Ian Mahinmi, DAL
REB36 (Season / Career): 12.0 / 11.2
Comments: Is currently blocked by duo of Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood. Proved more than adequate while filling in on December 7th for a sick Chandler, recording a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes.
Player: DeJuan Blair, SAS
REB36 (Season / Career): 11.5 / 12.4
Comments: This might be cheating, on account of Blair is averaging exactly 20 minutes per game, but he's definitely a legitimate rebounder -- would probably be top-15 were he to play starter-type minutes. In meantime, is also averaging 1.2 steals per game.
Player: Marcin Gortat, PHO
REB36 (Season / Career): 10.6 / 11.8
Comments: Has played 18 and then 27 minutes in his first two games with Phoenix. Never averaged even as many as 16 minutes per game with Orlando. Translation: that's a good thing.
Player: Joey Dorsey, TOR
REB36 (Season / Career): 13.6 / 13.8
Comments: Has already reached career high in minutes for a season, so his numbers present sample-size issues. Still, appears in limited action to be natual rebounder. Unfortunately, is averaging just about 15 minutes per game even with Reggie Evans injured.
Player: Jeff Adrien, N/A
REB36 (Season / Career): 11.1 / 11.1
Comments: Adrien was cut by the Warriors in early December. Whatever Golden State's reasoning, it likely wasn't due to Adrien's rebounding. Note that players for Golden State can benefit from the team's pace of play, as Adrien's 17.2% TRR is slightly lower than his Rebounds per 36 would suggest.
Player: Shelden Williams, DEN
REB36 (Season / Career): 10.9 / 10.1
Comments: Is another, like Blair, who's averaging exactly 20 minutes per game. Is different than Blair in that he doesn't appear to be part of his team's long-term plan -- at least not in any meaningful way.
Player: Ryan Anderson, ORL
REB36 (Season / Career): 9.1 / 8.4
Comments: Has played 22 and then 25 minutes in his two most recent games, against Sacramento and Boston, respectively. Seems to have trouble winning over coach Stan van Gundy, but is likely efficient fantasy player.
Player: Devin Ebanks, LAL
REB36 (Season / Career): 8.4 / 8.4
Comments: Given the Lakers' depth, it would likely take a lot for him to play fantasy-worthy minutes.
Player: Anthony Tolliver, MIN
REB36 (Season / Career): 7.9 / 7.9
Comments: Currently suffering effects of sprained MCL and will be out six to eight weeks. Still, is potentially important part of team -- especially with Darko Milicic dealing with nagging injuries.
Player: Jeremy Evans, UTA
REB36 (Season / Career): 7.6 / 7.6
Comments: Here because neither Ebanks nor Tolliver are particularly helpful to fantasy owners. Evans, unfortunately, isn't particularly helpful, either. Has excellent physical makeup, but reputation for being raw.
Player: Josh Childress, PHO
REB36 (Season / Career): 6.5 / 6.4
Comments: It appears as though the arrival of Mickael Pietrus (27 minutes Sunday versus Chidlress's nine) has definitely cut into Childress's playing time. Might find it hard to get substantial minutes henceforth, but between rebounding and field-goal percentage, offers real tools should his role increase.
Player: Andres Nocioni, PHI
REB36 (Season / Career): 6.1 / 6.9
Comments: Has more or less benefited from Evan Turner's absence -- and vice versa. Case in point, Sunday's game: Nocioni plays 15 minutes; Turner, 28 minutes.
Player: Tracy McGrady, DET
REB36 (Season / Career): 6.0 / 6.2
Comments: McGrady's now played in the vicinity of 25 minutes per game over his last five contests. Innate talent, obviously, isn't the problem with him; the problem is injuries.
Player: Marcus Thornton, NOR
REB36 (Season / Career): 7.7 / 4.0
Comments: If you're suspicious about Thornton's demarcation as a point guard, then you have company in the present author. In any case, that's how CBS has labeled him, and he (i.e. Thornton) appears to be rebounding at a rate above expectations. Finally, with Marco Belinelli underperforming from the field, there's a chance that coach Monty Williams would make a move.
Player: Gary Neal, SAS
REB36 (Season / Career): 5.2 / 5.2
Comments: Like Thornton above, Neal isn't what one might a call an "actual point guard"; however, he's crossed the 20-point threshold in two of the past four games, has a pretty excellent rebound rate so far, and appers to qualify at the point.
Player: Jerryd Bayless, TOR
REB36 (Season / Career): 4.8 / 3.5
Comments: Bayless was productive without starting point guard Jose Calderon in the lineup, showing skills across categories. Current value depends almost entirely on health of aforementioned Calderon.
All data courtesy of Basketball Reference.