Rebounding Differential Rankings in the NBA [Nov 6]

When this corner of the sports blogosphere told you earlier this fall/summer that the Raptors trade for Jermaine O’Neal was not going to be enough, by itself, to fundamentally improve Toronto’s Rebounding Deficiency from the last few seasons there were boatloads of delusional fans some who did not want to believe this specific assessment of this team, in advance of actually seeing real live NBA games this season with their own two eyes.

—————–

How could the acquisition of a former 6-time NBA All-Star …

in exchange for a smallish, erractic [but talented] Point Guard [i.e. TJ Ford], an over-the-hill, lumbering, strictly speaking part-time Center [i.e. Rasho Nesterovic], the 15th player from their roster last season [i.e. Maceo Baston], and a flip-flop of the No. 17 [overall] and No. 41 Draft Picks from the 2008 NBA Draft, who turned out to be Roy Hibbert [C] and Nathan Jawai [C], respectively …

possibly NOT improve the Raptors decidely mediocre rebounding numbers from the last few years in any significant way, shape or form?

—————–

Well … as of Thursday, November 6, 2008 the Basketball Acumen of this specific correspondent seems to be as sharp [and accurate] as ever:

[Statistics from NBA.com]

NBA

Rebounding Differential

Per Game

2008-2009

[as of Thu Nov 6]

Rank

Team

+/-

1

L.A. Lakers

+12.25

2

Detroit

+11.00

 

Philadelphia

+11.00

4

Cleveland

+9.00

5

Phoenix

+5.20

6

Utah

+5.00

7

Atlanta

+3.66

8

Boston

+2.40

 

Milwaukee

+2.40

10

Golden State

+0.40

 

Portland

+0.40

12

Orlando

+0.20

13

Charlotte

-0.25

14

Chicago

-0.60

15

Houston

-1.40

16

New Jersey

-1.66

17

Sacramento

-1.80

18

Memphis

-2.00

19

Oklahoma City

-2.25

20

New Orleans

-3.00

21

Denver

-3.50

 

Minnesota

-3.50

23

Dallas

-3.75

24

Miami

-4.00

25

San Antonio

-4.25

26

Indiana

-4.66

27

Washington

-7.33

28

New York

-8.75

29

L.A. Clippers

-9.00

30

Toronto

-10.50

When a certain NBA observer tells you something about ‘How the Game actually Works in this League’, in advance … it might well be in your best interests to believe what this person has to say, even though you are not able to fully comprehend it, at that point in time.

—————–

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”Anonymous

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16 Responses to “Rebounding Differential Rankings in the NBA [Nov 6]”

  1. Dan H Says:

    The Raps rebounding has been awful, BUT…

    In their slight defense, the teams they have been outrebounded by are:

    Detroit +11 RB after 4 games (1 against Raptors)
    Philadelphia +11 RB after 6 games (1 against Raptors)

    and

    Golden State +0.4 RB after 5 games (1 against Raptors)
    Milwaukee +2.4 RB after 5 games (1 against Raptors)

    So. Two (half) of their games have been against elite rebounding teams, and two (other half) against positive rebounding teams.

    The expected RB differential from those games would be (11+11+2.4+0.4)/4 = 6.2.

    So the RB diff of 10.5 is -4.3 compared to expected, and as the average RB differential of all teams throughout the season is approximately 0, the expected end of season rebounding differential (based purely on numbers) is -4.3.

    This would instantaneously move the Raps up 5 spots in the above rankings, ignoring any internal improvement from JO, Moon or Graham.

    So while I agree that rebounding has been a serious issue, I suggest that the Raptors will improve their current rebounding differential significantly throughout the season, both by internal improvement and more balanced opposition.

  2. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    Do I think the Raptors are going to finish in 30th place this season in ‘Rebounding Differential’?

    No, I do not.

    As the season progresses they should be able to improve upon their current standing in this specific area of the game.

    This is not the point, however.

    Last season the Raptors were a middle-of-the-pack ‘Rebounding Differential’ team …

    right now, I’ve got some other things on the go and don’t have the time or the inclination to look it up, but you should feel free to do so, if need be. :-)

    [or, you can just trust that what I'm saying is actually 100% correct ... ;-) ... cause I wouldn't tell you the wrong thing]

    One of the things which the Jermaine O’Neal trade was supposedly designed to accomplish, however, was to put an end to the Raptors’ mediocre-poor performance on the boards, relative to the TOP NOTCH teams in the NBA that consistently appear in the upper echelon of the ‘Rebounding Differential Rankings’.

    Which is clearly not the present situation with this team.

    In constrast to the delusional Raptors fans [e.g. wheretofor art thou, yertu damkule?] and other NBA observers who might ‘think’ they understand ‘How the Game actually Works in this League’ … when they try to tell others on the net that this corner of the blogosphere isn’t dialed in precisely … the cold, harsh, fact-of-the-matter is that the JO trade was not going to accomplish this goal at all, in isolation.

    My friend, that is The Point that’s being made here. :-)

    Some folks NEED to see IT happen first, with their own two eyes, in real live NBA games … while a select few do not.

    Dems not just my unique interpretation of events … dems now tha facts.

  3. Dan H Says:

    Well, Jamario Moon is averaging 1.8 rebounds per game versus last year’s average of 6.2. That’s a 4.4 rebound per game difference, and judging by the Raptors losing the rebiund battle, those rebounds aren’t going to some other Raptor.

    As such, if he would only replicate, not even improve on, last year’s rebounding, he would be TAKING 4.4 rebounds from the opponent’s count and ADDING 4.4 rebounds to the Raptors’ count.

    So, that’s a net +8.8 rebounds per game. Which puts the Raps at 17th (-1.7) in your table above, and using my reasoning above, at 7th at the end of the season (+4.5).

    I guess that’s kind of optimistic, so if you assume that only half of his missing rebounds are going to the opposition (a very pessimistic view I think), then the results would be 26th (-6.1) or, with my season length reasoning, 13th (+0.1).

    So, with the assumption that Jamario simply maintain his rebounding rates from last year, the addition of JO appears to have placed the raps between 13th and 7th at the end of the year. (Obviously this is based on very simple extrapolations and rough assumptions, but we’re four games in, not much to go on ;) )

    So, I guess looking at the numbers, you are correct in saying that JO alone will not be enough to make the Raps an elite rebounding team, but with improvement from Moon and JO (who has been alright at best thus far), I could see them being top ten in the league, which should help them be competitive.

  4. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    If you will allow me to …

    ———————-
    re: So, with the assumption that Jamario simply maintain his rebounding rates from last year,
    ———————-

    that, right there, is a prime example of ‘How it does NOT work in the NBA’.

    First.

    What you need to do is understand correctly the reason Jamario is not rebounding at the same rate, so far, this season in comparison to what he was able to realize last season … and, it isn’t connected in any way with a lack of effort or understanding on his part.

    Last year at this time, if I’m not mistaken, Jamario Moon burst onto the scene as an unknown player who was thought by Sam Mitchell to be a suitable defensive check for the Raptors to use, specifically, against a player like Luol Deng [Chicago Bulls] … which is why, in part, Jamario made his NBA debut vs Chicago.

    Now, it’s important to understand who Luol Deng is … as a top flight finesse Wing player in the NBA, who specializes in shooting perimeter jumpshots [of the 2-pt variety, similar but also slightly different to Rip Hamilton].

    Who Luol Deng is NOT, however … is a player like Kobe Bryant, or Lebron James, or Paul Pierce, or, perhaps, even Joe Johnson … who are going to hurt you [on the scoreboard] in multi-dimensional ways over the course of an NBA game.

    What is most important about checking players like that … in this League … isn’t the individual stats a player is capable of putting up himself, e.g. re: Rebs, Pts, Ast, etc. … but what he can do to LIMIT his check from doing that night against the Raptors … which is something very different altogether, and similar to the role an unsung [non-stats-based] player like Bruce Bowen has with the San Antonio Spurs.

    There’s a slight but significant difference there.

    Second.

    When Jamario was at his best last season … it’s important to realize:

    1. What position he was playing; and,
    2. Who the players were on the court with him, and what their roles and responsibilities were, for the most part.

    Third.

    Now, it is not my intention to review all of this material here and now, because I don’t have time for that today. :-)

    But … I will/can tell you this much, at this point … unless Jamario is placed in the SAME SITAUTION this year, as he was last year with the Raptors, it is incorrect thinking – ‘NBA 101 Style’ – to think, assume, or expect that he is capable of replicating his performance ‘On the Boards’ again this season.

    Fully comprehending ‘How the NBA game actually Works’ is about understanding individual match-ups & mis-matches, at the specific position a player is asked to perform, with the teammates he is asked to play alongside and against.

    Yes, indeed … so far, this season, Jamario Moon is rebounding at a clip of 1.8 boards per game, in comparison to last season’s average of 6.2 … and it is wholly unreasonable for anyone to think that that SHOULD change substantially unless certain other things are altered as well with this year’s Raptors team, i.e. comparing how they are operating so far this season which is wholly dissimilar to last year.

    ———————-

    In a very practical sense, understanding How basketball works in the NBA is a lot like understanding how the ‘Laws of Physics’ operate in the universe.

    e.g. For each and every action there is an equal and corresponding [opposite?] re-action.

    While it’s far being Rocket science … it sure helps a lot if you can fully comprehend what the equivalent of E=MC[place a 'little2' right here] means in the NBA Galaxy.

  5. Dan H Says:

    So, to be clear, what you are saying is that IF the Raptors were to operate in the same fashion regarding Moon’s position and situations, he COULD replicate his rebounding production from last season?

    ie If Sam Mitchell was to make adjustments to get the best rebounding production out of Moon, be it by his position, his instructions, his mind set or the Raptors’ game plan, the change from 1.8 rebounds per game to 6.2 rebounds per game would be possible.

  6. Raps Fan Says:

    it takes two to tango tho khandor. moon has shown zero interest in banging on the boards this season. seems like hes content with hanging on the perimeter, and grabbing the balls that bounce directly to him.

    smitch can give him all the chances he wants, but at some point, moon has to battle on the glass, no?

  7. Raps Fan Says:

    i don’t think he can get back to 6.2 a game. maybe 4.5 to 5 max. ive totally lost faith in the guy, hope he can regain it.

  8. FLUXLAND Says:

    Khandor,

    sort of off topic – not sure if you caught JO and Bosh on TNT last night, but during their respective conversations with Ernie, Bosh is asked about playing the 5 or the 4 and which one he prefers. Bosh goes on to say he believes he has the advantage at the 4. I found that interesting, and wondered what you thought, as I believe I know what your opinion is regarding this.

  9. Ziller Says:

    Unfortunately, “rebounding differential” means little. L.A. is a good rebounding team, but a flawed metric like rebounding differential overstates the case. Why? Because L.A.’s offense is really good … which means it doesn’t miss many shots … which means the opponent doesn’t have many opportunities for rebounds. Since most rebounds are captured by the defense (73% this year), that’s a big deal. Likewise, a good defense (like L.A.’s) will force more misses, giving the good defensive team more rebound opportunities.

    A better way to look at team rebounding is through rebounding percentages, which is basically REBOUNDS per OPPORTUNITIES. And it’s usually best to keep offensive and defensive rebounding separate, especially at the team level. You can have a good offensive rebounding/bad defensive rebounding team or vice versa. Keeping them separate allows better specificity and insight.

    (By the way, in this case differential magically gets it right: Toronto is #30 in offensive rebound % and #30 in defensive rebound %. Yikes!) J.O.’s individual rebounding is far, far off his career norms. Moon’s is way low too. Things should get better.

  10. khandor Says:

    Ziller,

    Welcome aboard, my good man. It’s a treat to have you visit here. :-)

    First.

    I am running short on time today. Tomorrow is much better for me to exchange ideas with others on this most important of topics.

    Second.

    Despite what might at-first appear to be sound logic, on your part, in regard to the role of ‘Percentage Rebounding NUmbers’ … your take is wholly incorrect, as is the case of many others in the hoops blogosphere who ascribe to a similar way of thinking as you do pertaining to the role and value of statistical analysis like THAT, in the first place.

    Third.

    I’ll be back tomorrow … to expound further on the subject for you, if you’re willing to ‘play’ some more with a lively cat.

    I sincerely hope so. ;-)

  11. khandor Says:

    Dan H,

    Yes … if those exact conditions could be re-produced, then, Moon could return to that level of board play … and, IMO, so, too, could he also find success as a Rebounder in the NBA if asked to work more at the #2 spot. Given his physique & athleticism, Moon has definite match-up advantages and disadvantages, in this League, depending on who he is asked to check at the #2, or #3 or #4 spot.

    Jamario Moon is an NBA athlete with a good head on his shoulders, who can still get a lot better.

  12. khandor Says:

    Raps Fan,

    Whe you shift a player like Jamario Moon around on the defensive end of the floor … like Bruce Bowen … to the #2, #3 or #5 postions, it provides a great deal of versatility for your team.

    J-Moon is a solid NBA player, who is extremely useful for the Raptors.

    Those who dump on him, IMO, do not know what they are talking about when it comes to evaluating NBA talent with acuity.

  13. khandor Says:

    Flux,

    Yes, I heard that interview with CB4.

    What was most interesting to me was that the interviewer said what I have believed for a long time now … that Chris Bosh has in fact spent the bulk of NBA career to this point playing at the Center position for the Toronto Raptors … and not where some other Raptors fans have mistakenly ‘thought’ Chris has been playing when he’s played well thus far, i.e. at the PF/#4 spot.

    The simple fact is this.

    Chris Bosh has become an All-star player, in the NBA, and as a Redeem Team Member, playing at the Center position … which is exactly what I saw in him from the first time he set foot on the floor at the ACC.

    This man IS a Center in this League … and all he needs to do is LEARN this about himself as he begins to move closer to his Peak Performance Years [i.e. 27/28 years of age].

    Good coaching at the college level for 3 or 4 years would have helped a tweener like Chris understand accurately where he fits in best on an elite level team, as a mid-range Big who can Rebound, Defend and Score, in the NBA.

    I do not fault Chris for thinking that he has a quickness advantage over a lot of other #4′s in the NBA when, in fact, he does not.

    As he continues to mature, Chris will develop an even better understanding of who he is as a Top Notch player in the NBA and how he fits in as a mid-range specialist who needs to rebound & defend in specific ways given his under-sized physique, as a Center.

  14. khandor Says:

    Ziller,

    Let me start like this.

    1. What do you believe ‘Rebounding Differential’ measures in the first place?

    2. What do you believe ‘Defensive Rebounding Percentage’ measures?

    3. What do you believe ‘Offensive Rebounding Percentage’ measures?

    The main problem I see in your current understanding of a metric like ‘Rebounding Differential’ is what you believe it measures, in the first place, in comparison with #2 and #3 … and, secondly, what it is you believe it somehow ‘overstate the case for’.

    In order for us to go further with this and, thereby, increase our understanding of the other’s perspective, we will first need to agree upon what we are discussing here.

  15. FLUXLAND Says:

    Khandor, I knew where you stood about CB4.

    The thing is, now knowing (somewhat) how Chris feels about his best suitable position, how realistic can one be about him heading in the direction you envision for him?

    Would if be fair to assume (say) that he told BC he is tired of being a 5 and wants a “legit” 5 on the team (or someone to play that role) so he can play the 4 and do what he wants to do, while in his opinion, excelling at it?

    What is leading you to believe that Chris is headed in the direction in your last statement?

    And as you mention the point of his career that he is headed to, is it not fair to say he will be what he is for the remainder of his career?

  16. khandor Says:

    Flux,

    In the 2nd half of today’s game, after JO came out at the 05:37 mark of the 3rd Q … replaced by Bargnani … what position did CB4 play in your opinion?

    IMO … he played as the Raptors Center.

    ——————————-

    No, I don’t think it’s fair to assume that CB4 told Bryan Colangelo anything like that at all.

    ——————————-

    IMO … good management and good coaching will be able to show Chris Bosh that when he plays like he did today … he is playing as the Center or this team … when Jermaine O’Neal is NOT on the floor.

    Jermaine O’Neal is the redundant Big Man on this team right now.

    He is simply not the player he once was … but is still very useful as a 3rd or 4th Big … PT-wise … when he focuses on REBOUNDING the ball, and not scoring it, as he did today.

    In other words … when Jermaine plays like a $21 million per year version of Rasho Nesterovic … this Raptors team is actually pretty darn good … i.e. Led by Chris Bosh & Jose Calderon. :-)

    —————-

    PS. Chris is only 24 years of age … which means he is still going to get a lot better, as an elite level NBA player [i.e. between now & 27/28 yrs of age] … especially if he is allowed to focus on playing as a mid-range Center, on offense, and then REBOUNDING like he did today. With Andrea Bargnani, as a spot-up 3PT-shooting Big beside him, offense is not the problem with this pair of Bigs. It’s the lack of defense and the fouling of Bargnani that will cause this twosome difficulties, when they play together vs elite level teams [the Bobcats do not qualify] … which is where an active Big like Kris Humphries comes into the picture. If the Raps start Hump, use his fouls wisely and then rotate Bargnani and Hump to finish games … there is no need for Jermaine O’Neal to play major minutes on this team. He is a back-up player.

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