These are changing times of NBA basketball, where smaller and quicker players are taking over the league, teams are chucking over 30 three-pointers per game, and the floor is spreading out away from the post.
A few things, however, have remained unchanged, including the importance of rebounds. Shooting ranges have extended, yes, and even if teams are shooting at the highest percentage in over two decades from the field (39.4%), there are still more attempted shots that are missed (60.6%) than are made. As the old adage goes, “rebounding wins championships”, and it’s every team’s priority to ensure that they secure their defensive rebound as well as steal the offensive boards. Scroll through any basketball box-score, and the team that wins the rebounding battle usually wins the game.
Which is why there is still such a premium for the best re-bounders in the league, and the premium extends to those individuals whose number help stack up big wins for their fantasy owners, too.
This is a particularly spectacular season for these ‘Rebound Kings’, as the leader this season—Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons—is averaging the most rebounds of any player in the NBA (15.7 rpg) since the great Dennis Rodman is 1996-97 (16.05 rpg). Drummond’s efforts helped him become an injury-replacement entry to his first-ever NBA All Star Game last week. Drummond especially does his damage on the offensive end, constantly giving his team second-chance baskets, averaging 5.0 offensive rebounds per game which is second only to the OKC Thunder’s Steven Adams (5.2 orpg). If he can keep up this pace, Drummond will end up with career-best rebound averages and lead the league in rebounds for the second time after the 2015-16 season. This is a busy week for Drummond, as the Pistons will play against the Raptors on Tuesday morning (India-time), vs. the Bucks on Thursday, the Magic on Saturday, and the Heat on Sunday.
Another accomplished rebounder—DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers—is currently standing second on the list with 15.0 rebounds per game this season. Jordan is already a two-time rebound leader in the NBA (2013-14, 2014-15) and the current average is his career-high, too. No wonder why a number of NBA teams hoped to snag him away before the trade deadline, but ultimately, the Clippers decided to keep him for the stretch run. If the season ended now, both Drummond and Jordan would secure the 15 rpg mark, the first time any NBA player has touched that average since Kevin Love in 2010-11. The Clippers will be on the road vs the Nuggets on Wednesday, play the next night at home against the Rockets, face off against the Knicks on Saturday, and the Nets on Monday.
DeMarcus Cousins saw his season end in cruel fashion with an Achilles injury before the All Star break, a cruel twist of fate since Cousins was enjoying a career-best rebounding season (12.9 rpg) for the Pelicans before his injury. His absence, of course, has hurt fantasy owners in multiple ways who have counted on his ability to score, rebound, and even pass and shoot extremely well for a player of his size.
One of the most distinguished rebounders active in the NBA today—Dwight Howard—is once again enjoying a fantastic season on the boards. A change of scenery from Atlanta to the Charlotte Hornets seems to have brought back some of the fire missing from Howard’s game in recent years. The five-time league rebounding leader has more boards in history (12,849) than any another active player in the league. This season, he’s grabbing a solid 12.7 rebounds per game. Howard the Hornets will host the Bulls on Wednesday, play in Boston on Thursday, in Philadelphia on Saturday, and in Toronto on Monday.
Rounding up the top-five is first-time All Star Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. ‘KAT’ is the youngest player on this list (22) and could potentially have the most upside in the course of his career. This is just his third season in the NBA but the big man has already become a beast in the post, averaging over 20 points, 12.2 rpg, and leading the league with the most double-doubles (53) so far this season. With an injury to teammate Jimmy Butler, expect Towns to shoulder even more weight for this team’s success. Timberwolves are playing this week against the Kings (Tuesday), Trail Blazers (Friday), and Utah (Saturday).
Tuesday, February 27:
Golden State Warriors vs. New York Knicks – Stars love to shine bright in the Madison Square Garden in New York, and when the undermanned Knicks play the super-men of Golden State, expect special performances by any of all of the Warriors’ superstars, such as Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson.
Wednesday, February 28:
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat – The Heat feature a star-rebounder of their own in Hassan Whiteside, who has known animosity against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers’ center Joel Embiid. This should be a great matchup of these two bigs for two teams competing for playoff spots in the East.
Saturday, March 3:
Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards – The Wizards have won 8 of their last 11 games in John Wall’s absence, with almost every player in the rotation receiving a statistical bump and the team assisting at a high-rate as a whole. They will face a top-of-the-line challenge in this match up against East leaders Toronto, a chance to prove if they can truly be elite without their star PG.