As draft night approaches Thursday, here’s one thing to keep in mind as the Bucks scour their scouting reports to plug holes in their backcourt: they didn’t rebound well last season.
Opponents of the Milwaukee Bucks collected more rebounds — 3776, to be exact — than the opponents of any other NBA team for the 2012-13 season.
The 3776 number can be misleading though, because there were a lot of rebounds to be had in the Bucks’ games. Milwaukee typically played at one of the faster paces in the league so there were more shots and as a result, more rebounds. To be specific, the Bucks missed 4069 shots — 160 more misses than any other team in the league. Those additional misfires led to extra rebounding opportunities for their opposition.
But even when adjusted for pace, the Bucks were deficient as defensive rebounders. After starting out strong in November, the Bucks regressed and finished the season collecting just 71.3% of available defensive rebounds. Only Charlotte (71.1%) and Sacramento (71.0%) were worse. Sacramento and Charlotte also combined to win 30% of their games this season. In other words, they’re not good.
The Bucks should have been better rebounders in 2012-13. They acquired Samuel Dalembert last offseason to patrol the paint and grab rebounds. Part of the reason the Bucks crashed the defensive glass so well in November is because that was when Dalembert was starting. He rebounded well. Unfortunately, he was a disaster — defensively and aerobically. Scott Skiles yanked him from the rotation and the slide began.
When the playoffs rolled around, Milwaukee didn’t reverse course. The Bucks finished the series against Miami with a 70.7% defensive rebounding rate. While the Bucks were competitive in most games, the Heat used quick scoring runs to snuff them out, and most of those bursts came with Chris Andersen in the game. In a small but back-breaking sample, Andersen finished the series with a personal offensive rebounding rate of 26.7% – an incredible number given that the league average for entire teams usually hovers around 25% or so.
It would be easy to point a finger at a gimpy Ekpe Udoh here because 1) he was charged with the task of slowing Andersen, and 2) he has historically compiled low defensive rebounding numbers. But Udoh’s struggles in the postseason (MIL only corralled 65.8% of available defensive rebounds with him on the floor against Miami) don’t reflect the fact that in the regular season the Bucks were a better rebounding team with him playing.
Here are the ON/OFF splits for some relevant Bucks with regard to defensive rebounding for the 2012-13 regular season:
Redick 69.9% ON (OFF numbers skewed by games played with ORL vs. MIL)
So what are these numbers saying?
1) Jennings’ lack of stature hurts the Bucks on the boards. Despite the fact that he and Ellis played about 3/4 of their minutes together, Monta was much better.
2) Throwing Redick out on the floor in three-guard lineups helped Milwaukee’s floor spacing on offense, but yielded a ton of offensive rebounds to their opponents. Dunleavy did a better job at both,
3) Henson is already an elite offensive rebounder, but whatever bulk and strength he can add ethics offseason will help him hold his own when boxing out. The other relevant Milwaukee bigs all fared well.
One wing in the current draft who could really help the Bucks is Jamaal Franklin. Despite standing just 6′ 6″, he led his team in rebounds with 9.5. That’s a BIG number.
But even if they go another direction in the draft, the small ball experiment needs to end.
The Bucks can’t win for any prolonged stretches — and especially not in the more rigorous postseason — when opponents are flummoxing them with extra possessions.