Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Use offensive rebounding as a tool for improved offensive efficiency, and improved transition defense.
The Offensive Rebounding Debate
There is no doubt that offensive rebounding can aid your overall efficiency as an offense. It creates extra opportunities for an offense and can produce high quality looks versus a scrambling defense. For teams that do not shoot the ball particularly well it would seem that offensive rebounding should take on an even more important role. They would seem to need those extra opportunities in order to maintain the kind of offensive efficiency that is necessary to win games.
Often times a team’s strategy on the offensive glass is directly tied to their strategy in transition defense. For instance if a team requires that two players get back on defense once a shot is taken, that automatically limits the number of players who can be sent to the offensive glass. Without a doubt there is a balance between the two elements, offensive rebounding and transition defense, that is inescapable.
On the extreme of this offensive rebounding and transition defense relationship is what the majority of NBA teams are doing currently; sending everyone back on defense. This concept is borne out of the belief that a team gains more from getting back on defense and stopping transition baskets than it does from the collection of offensive rebounds. Offensive rebounding percentage as a whole has been on a league wide downward trend for over ten years as evidence of that belief.
Inspiration for Deeper Examination
In the first few weeks of this offseason I have listened to a number of interesting podcasts discussing the topic of offensive rebounding. Each of the podcasts seemed to suggest (to some extent) that we should perhaps buck the current trend, and crash the glass. Each of the podcasts approached the subject from a slightly different angle, but all seemed to suggest that offensive rebounding could be used both to improve efficiency and as a transition defense weapon.
Coaches Ryan Pannone and Aaron Ferne employ similar “Tagging Up” systems where not only are they crashing the offensive glass with every offensive player but they are using it as a method of immediately matching up on defense and reducing their opponents’ transition opportunities. Both coaches give great suggestions on teaching points and the strategic positioning of their rebounders to either A) get the rebound or B) transition to defense immediately. Dave Klatsky, an assistant coach at Colgate University, shines a light on a self study that their staff conducted on their own offensive rebounding production. His study gave some unexpected insight into the value of offensive rebounders as a means to slow down an opponent's transition offense.
Three Great Podcast Suggestions:
Perhaps one realistic criticism of coaches could be that what they say they do and what they actually do don’t exactly match. For instance, a coach might say “we send four guys to the glass” - but when you look at that team’s missed shots you rarely see four players going to the glass. With this thought in mind and with the interesting philosophies presented by Coach Pannone and Coach Ferne circling in my mind I wanted to look at our own team’s performance on the offensive glass.
When I came across Coach Klatsky’s podcast I was extremely intrigued by his own self study which gave insight on the correlation between the number of “crashers” on each missed shot and the opponent's subsequent transition offensive opportunity. The Colgate study charted 1) What kind of shot was taken, 2) How many players crashed, 3) Did they rebound, if so did they score, 4) If they did not rebound, did the opponent get a transition opportunity, and lastly, 5) did they score off that Transition Opportunity. After listening to the podcast I decided to embark upon a self study on our own offensive rebounding performance. Over the course of the next week I went back and looked at every single missed shot from our past season and applied the charting concepts of Coach Klatsky’s study. Based on the information given on the podcast we came to similar conclusions in a number of areas. The four that stuck out most were;
1. The more players we crashed the highest our OREB% climbed
2. The more players we crashed the higher our PPP climbed on a successful rebound
3. The more players we crashed the lower percentage of our opponents possessions turned into transition opportunities.
4. The more players we crashed the lower our opponents PPP were on those possessions
Quick Table 1: We have the data sorted by the number of crashers who pursued a missed shot. The key statistics are in the last four columns, which show our OREB% in those scenarios, our PPP if we rebounded the ball, our opponents Transition Opportunity Percentage if we did not secure the rebound, and finally our opponent's PPP in those transition scenarios.
Quick Table #2: We have the data sorted by the location in which the missed shot was taken. One column of note here is the "Crashers" column which averages the numbers of crashers on each missed shot from that area. The last four columns represent the same critical data as above but by location rather than the number of crashers.
Reflections on the Results
One obvious trend to pull out of Quick Table #1 is that the more players we sent to the offensive glass the more often we secured the rebound. This probably seems obvious to most observers, but it of note just how much those percentages rose. The PPP when an offensive rebound was secured also rose higher when multiple offensive rebounders were sent to the glass. When you see the impact that sending two or more players to the glass has on OREB% and the resulting PPP, it was slightly disappointing to see nearly 270 missed shots result in one or less players actively pursuing a rebound. This is most certainly something that will play a role in our preparation for next season.
Probably the most interesting trend in Quick Table #1 is the downward trend in our opponent's Transition Opportunity Percentage and resulting PPP as we sent more players to the glass. There are a number of factors that may play into these numbers, including opponent strength, opponent pace, opponent strategy, etc. However, the numbers seem to support a conclusion that having to deal with multiple players crashing the glass slowed the opponent's transition offense down. This is also an area that we can dramatically improve in with better technique and instruction.
In staying with that topic of crashing more players I think you can look at Quick Table #2 and see a similar trend. The shot location that encouraged the most offensive rebounders was the three point shot. The three point shot saw the highest average of rebounders per shot, they gathered the largest OREB%, and they had dramatically lower Transition Opportunity Percentages and PPP numbers when compared to shots at the rim. Again, we're looking at data that suggests the more people we send to the glass the more improvement we saw in offensive rebounding and in transition defense.
Developing an Action Plan
Having seen the value that crashing the glass has on our own PPP and our opponents transition opportunities, we are developing an action plan to place greater emphasis on this aspect of the game for next season. Our three part action plan will consist of increased practice dedication, emphasis on teaching the technique of securing rebounds, and charting our performance in live time on game days.
Like any other aspect of the game, if you want your team to excel at it then you must invest time in developing it. A token drill here or there will not yield any increase in results. Making the offensive glassa a key component of your transition block of practice would seem to be an obvious place to do this. Incorporating offensive rebounding into the start of SSG’s or live play can be a simple method of emphasizing this skill, while not having to continually work on it in isolation.
Teaching the Technique
One of the really interesting parts of the Aaron Ferne podcast was his “teaching points” for offensive rebounders. We must conduct Skill Development for our offensive rebounders as well if we are expecting an uptick in results. All of his teaching techniques centered on giving his players a chance to get the offensive rebound, and also be in a position to transition into defense if they were unsuccessful.
Taking these teaching points and putting our players in 1/1, 2/2, 3/3 or 4/4 scenarios that teach the technique and then transition into live play would be a great way to incorporate this into practice.
1. Fighting to the “High Side”
2. Getting to 50/50 Position
3. “Pinning” your opponent in the paint
4. Tipping the basketball when you can not get it with two hands
Charting on Game Day
I am also of the belief that “what we measure, gets done”. We need to be able to go into halftime and assess our efforts on the offensive glass and determine if we are adhering to the what we are preaching. For example, if we preach ball security and we have 10 Turnovers at halftime we can address that. So if the offensive glass is to be a priority we need to know just how many crashers are getting to the rim on each possession. With some quality work by assistant coaches perhaps we can be aware of whom exactly is doing the crashing (and who is not).
This study was an interesting exercise on a topic that I have not traditionally broken down. I do believe that this is information that will help form my own philosophy on the subject moving forward. If there is anyone who is interested in how I conducted the study you can email me at email@example.com or find me out on Twitter for further discussion at @LeicBasketball.