Explaining Advanced Stats: Here’s Why Rebound Averages Don’t Tell the Entire Story

Greg Slaughter NorthPort Batang Pier PBA
Photo via PBA Images

Every basketball coach will tell you that you can only control the game when you control the rebounds. After all, a defensive stop can only be deemed complete when the defensive team grabs the board. 

But if you are to truly gauge a player’s rebounding ability, raw totals will not be enough. There are some players who log in fewer minutes, but can rebound at a very high rate. They may even be better rebounders than their teammates whose rebound totals are higher due to more minutes. 

So to paint a more accurate picture of a player’s true rebounding ability, we have an advanced stat called Total Rebounding Percentage (TREB%).

What’s Total Rebounding Percentage? Why Should I Use It?

First of all, let’s answer the question of why looking at raw rebound totals can be misleading in measuring how well a player or a team rebounds the ball. Let’s look at these situations:

  1. Guarding a team with a very slow offensive pace means that there will be less available defensive or offensive rebounds.
  2. Similarly, a team making almost all of their shots means that the opposing team has less defensive rebounds to grab.
  3. Lastly, a player who logs fewer minutes on the floor will certainly have less rebound totals.

Total rebounding percentage, or TREB% for short, attempts to solve the dilemma that these three situations present. Per Stats by Ryan, an advanced stats platform for Philippine basketball, total rebounding percentage is “an estimate of the amount of rebounds a player grabs out of all possible rebounding opportunities when he’s on the floor.”

This means that a player who has less playing time can still rank high in total rebounding percentage if he manages to grab a big percentage of the available rebounds when he is on the court. To provide a clearer explanation, let’s look at the rankings of NorthPort’s Greg Slaughter and Barangay Ginebra’s Prince Caperal in the rebounding department.

Slaughter and Caperal’s RPG and TREB% Rankings

Greg Slaughter15.5 (1st)17.5% (5th)
Prince Caperal6.5 (26th)19.1% (1st)

How did Caperal climb that high in total rebounding percentage? Always take note that TREB% factors in the playing time of a player and the pace in which his team plays at. Caperal is only playing 15.9 minutes per game, which pales in comparison to Slaughter’s 39.7. Moreover, NorthPort also averages almost three more possessions per game than Ginebra, which means that there could be more available rebounds for the Batang Pier players.

When you put all these together, total rebounding percentage calculates that Caperal grabs rebounds at a more efficient rate than Slaughter. When Caperal is on the floor, he grabs 19.1% of the available rebounding opportunities. On the other hand, Slaughter “only” hauls in 17.5% of the available rebounding opportunities when he is playing.

Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean that Slaughter is not a good rebounder, nor is he less-skilled when compared to Caperal. With his size and length, there’s no doubt that Slaughter can dominate the boards on a nightly basis. However, Caperal’s high rating in TREB% tells us two things: it shows us his great potential as a rebounder, and it tells us that his rebound totals could possibly drastically increase if he is given more playing time.

Note: The same concept of Total Rebounding Percentage (TREB%) can also be applied to Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OREB%) and Defensive Rebounding Percentage (DREB%).

Advanced Stats are now available for Philippine basketball! Through Ryan Alba’s Stats by Ryan, you can now look at team and player advanced stats for the current 2021 PBA Philippine Cup via the Dribble Media website.

Also, check out this glossary for a list of the basketball advanced stats terminologies.

You can also contact Ryan Alba via his Twitter handle (@_alba__).

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1 thought on “Explaining Advanced Stats: Here’s Why Rebound Averages Don’t Tell the Entire Story”

  1. Pingback: PBA Advanced Stats Rankings: Keep These Rebounders Away From the Offensive Glass — Dribble Media

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