Title: Exploring an early anomaly: Why are the Raptors better at rebounding small?
Date: October 23, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I explore the early season anomaly of the Raptors rebounding much better when playing small despite Jonas Valanciunas being far and away their best rebounder.
There is a bit of a strange statistical anomaly with the Toronto Raptors so far that runs counter to most assumptions and logic: The team is rebounding better with Serge Ibaka at centre than with Jonas Valanciunas. It’s notable enough of a trend that, on a night where even a terrific Valanciunas’ rebounding performance saw Ibaka’s groups have a better rebounding rate, Eric Koreen built a lede around a counter-example in this terrific breakdown from last night.
On that night, the Raptors out-rebounded the Charlotte Hornets, which would be satisfying did it not break a perfect 50.0000-percent rebound rate on the year to that point. Now, the Raptors have hauled in 51.9 percent of available rebounds. Interestingly, while that ranks 11th in the league, the Raptors are just 20th in defensive rebound rate (and 11th in offensive rebound rate), which highlights a potential weakness on this team entering the year with how often they figure to play small. That they’ve only grabbed 63.9 percent of available defensive rebounds with Valanciunas on the floor seems just wrong — the team has their worst defensive rebounding rate of any player when he’s on the floor — and like something worth figuring out.