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NBA players are more diverse in their skillset than ever. You could even say that the roles have been reversed, with big men having high value as shooters while guards who command the glass and push the pace are coveted by all.
However, when it comes to the rebounding conversation, it is still the biggest players on the court that command the most attention. The giants of the league are still leading the battle on the glass, despite the pace of play increasing.
Clint Capela opens as the favorite to win the rebounding title again this season. However, the likes of Rudy Gobert and Jonas Valanciunas are more than ready to challenge him for the crown. In a surprise twist, the top five in odds to win the rebounding title all hail from outside of the United States.
There is plenty of competition in the NBA for the rebounding crown, however, for Capela, it looks like he should repeat as the rebounding champion. Between his fantastic individual prowess, big minutes contribution, and lack of internal competition at his position, Capela should put up another massive rebounding year for the rising Hawks.
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Let’s take a look at the favorites to be this season’s rebounding leader!
— NBA UK (@NBAUK) November 24, 2019
Swiss-born big man Clint Capela was the rebounding leader through the 2020-2021 NBA season. As the foundation for the Atlanta Hawks’ defence, Capela’s status as a rebounder is his first priority for the Hawks.
Capela’s durability was a large part of his rebounding success last season. While his minutes were down from his last two seasons, he played in 63 of 72 games while averaging a career-high 14.3 rebounds per game.
Being the only true center on the Hawks’ roster, Capela is crucial to the success of his team. It puts more pressure on him, but he doesn’t need to fight his own teammates for rebounds – a great sign for the public looking at Capela to win the rebounding title again.
Rudy Gobert pulls down this offensive rebound despite having his arm around the back of Taj Gibson: pic.twitter.com/88ssXDGY4A
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) March 3, 2018
Known as the “Stifle Tower”, Rudy Gobert is probably more famous for his intimidating blocks. However, at his size and skill for a center, it is only natural that he is so successful as a rebounder as well. Adding the title of rebounding leader to his defensive accomplishments would be massive for his legacy.
Gobert is in a similar situation to Capela in that he will usually play as the lone true big man whenever he is on the court. That opens up opportunities for rebounding, and due to his shot-blocking instincts he is great on loose balls as well as on the glass.
The Frenchman will have a solid backup in Hassan Whiteside, but Gobert will still play the majority of minutes at the five. So long as he can stay healthy, there’s a great chance that he takes the rebounding title this year.
Valanciunas does a really good job getting good position for the offensive rebound on Whiteside. As the shot goes up begins to root him out so he can to the board and putback. pic.twitter.com/hLXBbskAKb
— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) July 31, 2020
It is surprising to think that a player with nine years in the league is only 28 years old. Jonas Valanciunas came into the NBA young, but he’s established himself as one of the most intimidating post-presences in the league.
The Lithuanian international is one of the last “true” big men left in the NBA. His skill set doesn’t extend beyond 15-feet, but within that range, he is difficult to manage. After averaging a career-best 12.5 rebounds and 4.1 offensive rebounds per game, Valanciunas finds himself on a New Orleans team intent on making the playoffs.
Valanciunas may be third in the running to win the rebounding crown, but we don’t see that lasting a long time. Paired with Zion Williamson and an up-tempo Pelicans squad, Valanciunas projects to play a more supporting role. His numbers will be good, but not enough to compete at the top.
This rebound and put-back by Sabonis is ridiculous.
Tip off the glass to himself, easily one of the best in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/eXDnGRCP2M
— Justin Byers (@Justin_A_Byers) January 16, 2020
Another Lithuanian finds his way into the top five for rebounding favorites in Domantas Sabonis. The legacy of basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas has proven to be one of the most versatile players in the NBA. His rebounding being at the forefront of his skillset.
Representative of his versatility, Sabonis collected nine triple-doubles in 62 games played. He was also the rebounding leader, with 12 per game, amongst players who collected a triple-double – save for Capela who had just one on the season.
Sabonis will play big minutes for the Pacers as they push for the playoffs once again. Should he stay healthy, he could very well be in the top three in rebounding if not at the very top depending on the health of front court partner Myles Turner.
Nikola Vucevic needed just two more assists to make his 30-point, 20-rebound night a triple double ?
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 29, 2018
The Chicago Bulls acquired Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic in a bid to make the playoffs last year. While it didn’t pay off, they did acquire one of the NBA’s best front-court talents and a bonafide All-Star.
The Swiss-born Montenegrin is a double-double machine. His ability to score the ball is only matched by his tenacity on the glass, as he’s averaged a double-double for the past three seasons.
Vucevic joins an All-Star cast led by Demar Derozan and supported by himself, Zach LaVine, and Lonzo Ball. Vucevic will have to focus on the boards more this season, as his one-on-one opportunities are sure to be more limited than ever.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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