Nothing destroys the heart of a defense more than relinquishing offensive rebounds. After playing 10–30 seconds of solid defense, an offensive rebound gives the offense another possession, forcing the defense to exert more effort and hiding the offense’s poor shooting. More to the point, offensive rebounds lead directly to free throw attempts.
Maybe it is a coincidence; possibly it is evidence that aggressive teams get offensive rebounds and aggressive teams get to the free throw line; or, it is no coincidence, and offensive rebounds lead directly to free throw attempts.
In the 2002-03 NBA season, Golden State led the league in offensive rebounds per game (15.7) and free throw attempts per game (29.0). New York shot the fewest free throws per game (19.8) and grabbed the fewest number of offensive rebounds per game (10.3). Numerous variables affect this comparison, but aggressive teams get more offensive rebounds and aggressive teams shoot more free throws.
Teams who protect their defensive backboard surrender fewer free throw attempts, adding more substance to the argument. Portland surrendered the fewest free throw attempts per game (20.2) in 2002-03, and finished tied for fourth in fewest offensive rebounds allowed per game (11.1). On the other side, Chicago’s opponents shot the most free throws per game (29.2), and the Bulls relinquished the fourth most offensive rebounds per game (13.6).
Offensive players who get an offensive rebound have an advantage on the defense; if the defense were in good position, there likely would be no offensive rebound. As the defender attempts to recover, fouls occur. Offensive players must look to score immediately and take advantage of this opportunity.
When going for a rebound, a player should jump small and tall, extending as high as possible to reach the ball. When they land, they should be big and wide, taking up space and landing with a solid foundation that lends itself to better balance. This strong, wide position aids the offensive player as he attempts to go through the arms and bodies and shoot the put-back.
A strong base allows the offensive player to land and make a head fake, getting defenders off-balance to create time and space for the follow-up opportunity. The offensive rebounder must keep the ball high when he lands; if he brings the ball down, he wastes movement and time and gives defenders a chance to get a hand on the ball and deflect the put-back.
Great offensive rebounders –Elton Brand (4.6 ORPG) and Ben Wallace (4.0 ORPG) – use quickness and anticipation. More than anything, however, great offensive rebounders actively pursue every ball and assume every shot is a miss. These players put themselves in position for follow-up opportunities and free throw attempts.
University of Tennessee Women’s Head Coach Pat Summit says: “Offense sells tickets, defense wins games and rebounds win championships.” A team cannot be a complete team without rebounding: offensive rebounds enhance an offense and counter-balance poor shooting, and defensive rebounds finish good defensive possessions. Championship teams make all the plays, and that includes rebounding.
By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League