Importance of Good Board Scores (Version 2010)
Since we're close to the midway point of the season, thought it was time for another installment of examining the rebounding margin of contenders. We've found examining a team's rebounding margin is a quick, simple way of projecting playoff success. This started in 2007, when we wanted to explore the correlation of rebounding and title chances.
In our April '07 post we examined the rebounding numbers of the NBA Finals participants between 1987 to 2006 (see chart at bottom of post). Last year, we looked at '08-'09 contenders at the halfway point.
It was no surprise that strong rebounding is a key component to winning titles. But we found it interesting that out of the 40 teams to make the Finals in that 20-year span between '87 to '06, only four teams had a negative rebound margin for the regular season. We also found that the +1 rpg margin threshold seems to be a strong indicator if a team can win the title. If your team rebounds below the +1 rpg margin for the regular season, you're unlikely to win the title.
Since we did the initial post in '07, Lakers won the title with a healthy +2.47 margin, Boston won a title with a +3.12 rpg margin & the Spurs had a +1.6 rpg margin for '06-07 reg. season. '08-09 Orlando finished the reg. season with a +1.12 rpg margin, the '07-08 Lakers had a +1.35 margin, the '06-07 Cavs were a tough boarding club at +3.66.
- In the last 26 seasons (1983-84 to 2008-09), only four teams have made the NBA Finals with a negative rebounding margin for the regular season:
- '86-87 Celtics (-0.1 rpg)
'93-'94 Rockets (-0.4 rpg)
'94-'95 Rockets (-2.8 rpg)
'99-'00 Pacers (-1.6 rpg)
Currently (stats as of 1/6/10), the Lakers (+2), Magic (+2.6), Cavs (+3.8) and Spurs (+4.1) are in good shape in the rebound margin department.
The Mavs (+0.3), Hawks (+0.1) and the Celts (-0.1) have the rebounding chops to make the finals, but fall a little short of title-team caliber rebounding. The Nugs' (-1.2) and the Suns' (-1.8) current rebound numbers are troubling.
Should be some concern in Boston with their rebounding numbers. Boston's rebound margin is basically even for the year. Celtics qualified for the finals in 1987 with an identical -0.1 rpg margin, but could not take home the title. Obviously, Boson's mediocre boarding can be somewhat attributed to Garnett's knee problems. KG is only averaging 7.6 rpg in 31 mins. per game. KG averaged 8.5 last year, playing roughly the same amount of minutes. It would help if Garnett could regain some of his former rebounding mojo so as to help the Celts get above the +1 threshold by the end of the reg. season.
The Celts are not helped either by Pierce's rebound numbers dipping a little over the last few years. Rasheed Wallace has always been an underachiever on the boards for guy with nice length & mobility. Getting Glen Davis might spike the rebound numbers a little, although he could just be taking minutes away from Shelden Williams, a quality board man.
Slightly surprised the Mavs are not a better rebounding team currently. Have a great collection of rebounders on the roster, especially above-average rebounders at perimeter positons (Marion, Kidd, Howard). Granted, Howard has been dinged up, but still think Dallas should be better on the boards.
Can't ask much more from the center positon, where Dampier and Drew Gooden have been pounding the glass this season. Coach Carlisle needs to find a way to get some better rebounding efforts outside the 5-spot. Kidd is playing the same amount minutes as last year (35.6), but averaging one less rpg than last year. Not to mention, Shawn Marion is having the worst rebounding year of his career. Also, Dirk has slowly seen his reb. production decline over the last few years. Suffice to say, Dallas has been underachieving on the boards thus far, but the raw talent is there to improve internally.
The fan base that should be the most concerned about their rebounding derailing their title chances has to be Denver. The Nugs are currently at -1.2 rpg margin and not really sure Denver can increase their rebound numbers internally. No doubt the Nugs need to bolster their frontline, having no reliable back-ups at their forward positions. Another concern for Denver is that their defensive play has fallen off in recent play. Shoddy rebounding + subpar team defense = slim chance of reaching the Finals.
No surprise the Suns are back to pre-Shaq, D'Antoni-era rebounding ways, -1.8 margin. Couple this poor rebounding with a team defense considerably worse than D'Antoni-era teams and you have a recipe for playoff failure.
Basically if you want your team to make the Finals, you must hope for a positive rebound margin for the regular season. And if you want to take home the Larry O'Brien trophy, at least a +1 rebound per game margin is pretty much required. Don't have to be the best rebounding team to win the title, just can't be a subpar board team.
Here are the regular-season rebound margins for the Finalists of the past 26 seasons:
- 1983-84: BOS +4.5 | LAL +2.3
1984-85: LAL +3.5 | BOS +4.3
1985-86: BOS +5.1 | HOU +2.1
1986-87: LAL +2.3 | BOS -0.1
1987-88: LAL +1.7 | DET +3.0
1988-89: DET +4.6 | LAL +3.7
1989-90: DET +3.9 | POR +6.0
1990-91: CHI +3.3 | LAL +2.4
1991-92: CHI +4.3 | POR +5.0
1992-93: CHI +3.3 | PHX +2.6
1993-94: HOU -0.4 | NYK +5.5
1994-95: HOU -2.8 | ORL +3.0
1995-96: CHI +6.6 | SEA +0.9
1996-97: CHI +5.3 | UTH +2.9
1997-98: CHI +5.2 | UTH +4.6
1998-99: SAS +2.0 | NYK +0.4
1999-00: LAL +3.9 | IND -1.6
2000-01: LAL +3.4 | PHI +4.0
2001-02: LAL +1.1 | NJN +0.4
2002-03: SAS +1.7 | NJN +1.5
2003-04: DET +2.2 | LAL +0.7
2004-05: SAS +2.2 | DET +3.8
2005-06: MIA +4.3 | DAL +3.9
2006-07: SAS +1.6 | CLE +3.6
2007-08: BOS +3.1 | LAL +1.3
2008-09: LAL +2.5 | ORL +1.1