## Understanding our Rebounding Issues

A great source of frustration for myself this season, as well as many of you I'm sure, is the Jazz's lackadaisical approach to rebounding. It's frustrating, aggravating, utterly disheartening to see our team get out rebounded game after game. Part of the frustration is that many of the players seem to have forgotten the basic tenant to BLOCK OUT your opponent.

How do the Jazz fix this problem? What is the cause of this problem? Better still, is it even a problem?

The following chart shows the rebounding totals for the Jazz and their opponent for each game of the season, along with an indicator of whether we won or loss the rebounding battle and the overall game.

 Opponent Jazz Rebounds Opp. Rebounds Plus/Minus RB Battle W or L Win or Loss Nuggets 33 34 -1 L L Suns 45 44 1 W L Thunder 42 38 4 W W Raptors 35 36 -1 L W Warriors 46 52 -6 L L Clippers 43 51 -8 L W Heat 44 46 -2 L W Magic 35 41 -6 L W Hawks 43 41 2 W W Bobcats 40 43 -3 L W Thunder 34 39 -5 L L Nets 44 57 -13 L W Spurs 31 46 -15 L L Blazers 38 48 -10 L W Kings 39 50 -11 L W Hornets 38 36 2 W W Lakers 42 38 4 W W Clippers 28 39 -11 L W Bucks 48 26 22 W W Pacers 46 32 14 W W Mavericks 43 37 6 W L 39.9 Team RPG 41.6 Opp. RPG -1.7 8 Wins, 13 Losses 15 wins, 6 Losses

As the chart indicates, on the battle for the boards we have an 8-13 record--but our win-loss record stands at 15-6.

Is rebounding not that important then?

Take a look at the plus/minus rebound category. In games where we were outrebounded by more than 5 rebounds our record is 6 wins to 3 losses. Our record when we outrebounded our opponent by more than 5 is 2 wins, 1 loss.

It would take a true statistical analysis to determine what is the exact relationship is between rebounds and victories, but looking at the straight data it would appear that rebounding is not that big of a deal when it comes to your win/loss record. Hence, the Timberwolves lead the league in rebounding and have a losing record while Boston is 27th in the league in rebounding and has a winning record.

Of course, rebounding is just one small aspect of the game. Field Goal percentage, free throw attempts, turnovers, steals, blocks, unquantifiable defense. All these things factor into whether a team wins or loses a game.

Then again, we've only lost twice when we have won the rebound battle. It stands to good reason that strong rebounding wins games. More defensive rebounds=less shots for the other team. More offensive rebounds=more shots for your team.

So what is the cause of the Jazz's rebounding woes?

Here are two popular ideas that have been circulating on the Dunk.

The first is that the Jazz have been playing such good interior defense that teams have been forced to take more 3 point shots, lessening opportunities for our big guys to grab rebounds.

The following chart provides data on our opponents three points shots.

 OPP Avg 3PA OPP 3PA (vs Jazz) Plus/Minus of 3P Avg 20.8 20 0.8 23.2 26 -2.8 15 20 -5 14.6 13 1.6 20.2 14 6.2 18.1 20 -1.9 16.7 15 1.7 24.2 32 -7.8 16.9 19 -2.1 16 21 -5 15 15 0 16.4 21 -4.6 21.7 20 1.7 17.6 22 -4.4 16.2 16 0.2 16.2 19 -2.8 20.5 15 5.5 18.1 19 -0.9 17.7 23 -5.3 24.1 24 0.1 18.8 19 -0.2

The green indicates where opponents took more  than their average number of 3 point attempts against us; the red is where they took less than their attempts. For those keeping track at home, in only 8 games have opponents taken more than their average number of attempts, while in the other 13 they have taken equal to or less than their average. And while there were games where the opponent took 5 or 6 more shots than average, their were also games where they took 5 or 6 shots less than average.

In other words, I don't think opponent's 3 point shooting is the cause for our rebounding woes. (Granted, this data does not take into effect long range jumpers that aren't 3s--just the same, I don't buy this as a cause)

A second popular idea is that our rebounding will boom if Fesenko plays more minutes. After all, he is huge. Just his body taking up room prevents other teams from getting rebounds.

The following chart shows the number of minutes Fesenko played, whether we won or loss the rebounding battle, and what our Rebounding record is when Fesenko plays more or less than 8 minutes in a game.

 Fesenko Minutes Rebound Battle W or L 11 L 7 W 3 W 0 L 0 L 6 L 19 L 9 L 13 W 17 L 4 L 0 L 1 L 0 L 15 L 9 W 6 W 5 L 6 W 9 W 11 W Less than 8 mins More than 8 mins 4 wins, 9 losses 4 wins, 5 losses

If Fes plays more than 8 minutes it's almost .500; when less we're looking at .308.

Does having Fesenko in for one of our other bigs make a difference?

Maybe? Not sure. A real analysis would need to be done. And I honestly don't like this category much because it seems subject to too many variables. Suppose Fes has a monster game on the glass, but no one else does....Jazz lose rebounding battle-not Fes's fault. Suppose Fes doesn't show up to play, but Millsap and Jefferson grab every board. Jazz win the rebounding battle--not Fes's fault (you can't say for certain whether  the sheer presence of his size had any effect or not)

In summary, I have to say that my inquiry into the Jazz rebounding woes provided little insight. There is no questiono that are rebounding is not doing well- though we're still winning games. I don't think I can pin any wins or losses solely  on rebounding, but I can state with certainty that improving our rebounds will improve our chances to win, and that it is an area of Jazz basketball that needs improvement.

Is 3 point shooting the cause? I don't think so. Is Fes the answer? Maybe, maybe not.

It's just something that the team as a whole needs to make a priority.

(If anyone wants a copy of my spreadsheet data to do your own look at the numbers, let me know and I"ll email it.)

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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