Is Brook Lopez an underrated rebounder?

Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez (AP)

The NBA struck a deal with SportVU this offseason to put their three-dimensional optical tracking cameras in every arena in the league, hoping that teams can use the new information to their advantage. John Schuhmann of looked at a few tidbits uncovered by the cameras last season, including some ways in which Brooklyn Nets center and much-maligned-for-rebounding-issues Brook Lopez was a more impressive rebounder than forward Reggie Evans, who set an NBA record for highest rebound percentage ever last season (min. 50 games).

According to Schuhmann, in 18 games under the watchful eyes of SportVU cameras, Lopez actually grabbed 63% of all rebounds when he was in the vicinity of the ball, compared to just 62% for Evans. 54% of Lopez’s rebounds were contested, while only 31% of Evans’s were, and Lopez traveled more than 2 feet further on average to grab his rebounds.

We (and others) have dissected how Brook Lopez’s attention to boxing out made Evans’s job as a rebounder easier, and the SportVU numbers back it up; Lopez’s rebounds often come while fighting others for position, while Evans’s are a result of Lopez clearing that space.

According to, Brook Lopez grabbed 13.2% of all available rebounds when he was on the floor this season, ranking him 55th in the NBA among players with at least 50 games played and 20 minutes played per game. (Evans ranked first, by a wide margin.) The team as a whole grabbed a higher percentage of rebounds with Lopez on the floor (52.9%) than off (51.2%).

John Schuhmann, — SportVU Adds To The Conversation


  1. Reggie Evans has great rebounding numbers because that is all he does, chase rebounds.
    I remember when Humphries was playing full-time a couple of years ago and had great rebounding numbers…Brook said since Hump was grabbing the rebounds he got “lazy” chasing for them.

    1. M I K E Yes, Reggie chase rebounds. But by definition someone on the court has to be the fifth option. If your fifth offensive option (and just to reiterate, you have to have one one) happens to be content to go chase rebounds, that can actually work. I hate that folks say that Reggie is some serious liability because all he can do is rebound. If he was playing PG and rebounding was his skill, I’d say that is a problem. But a rebound demon at PF who happens to be playing next to two score first centers (Lopez and Blatche) is not a problem. It is a great fit. 
      And as for the story about Lopez and Humphries, that was when the Nets were basically tanking. I actually believe Lopez because he completely turned back the clock on his rebounding numbers last season. He went from 6 per game to 8, which is a nice improvement.

  2. the analysis & stats completely match the eye test. so many of evans’ rebounds on the defensive end were completely unchallenged, with the opposing team getting back into defensive position. that said, he is a complete menace on the offensive boards.
    i’m not such a stat nerd that i need my starting center to have a ton of boards. as long as the team rebounds well and we win, that’s all that should matter. it looks like brook is a positive force in that dynamic.

  3. Reggies defensive rebounds are uncontested because the opposing team doesn’t even try to tangle with him. This is actually a good thing for the Nets. I suspect that Reggie goes after those defensive rebounds so hard that other teams don’t want to mess with him. They may play it cool because no one is expecting you to get an offensive rebound and they don’t want to get a huge Reggie elbow to the head while he chases a defensive rebound. 
    Anyway, these stats do not show that Lopez is a better rebounder than Reggie. But we wouldn’t expect them to. They just show that Lopez is decent and Reggie is playing a completely different game from him when it comes to rebounds.

    1. JonCBK these are grown men. i highly doubt players don’t go after boards because they actually “fear the beard” (can’t say that anymore, i guess).

      1. scoon JonCBK Watch the games this season when Reggie is in. The other team barely tries to crash the offensive boards. 
        Reggie did put up a historic rebound rate last season.

        1. JonCBK scoon c’mon, man. i’ve watched practically every nets game since i can remember. football season what? i’m counting down to 10/30. i know reggie’s game.

  4. Reggie grabs so many rebounds because his man can completely leave him to go over and double Brook.  Thus, when the ball comes off the rim, Brook is fighting two people and Reggie has nobody.  Watch Brook’s offensive rebounding numbers go up when Garnett is on the floor and someone actually has to cover KG

    1. NJBK44 You are talking only about offensive rebounds here. Yes, guys don’t have to guard Reggie when he is more than 8 feet from the rim. And Reggie did lead the league with a 15.5% offensive rebound rate (i.e., when the Nets missed, there was a 15.5% that Reggie got the ball back). Roy Hibbert, Tyson Chandler, and Zach Randolph were 2, 3, and 4 in the league on OREB%. 
      But it wasn’t OREB% that lead to Reggie’s crazy numbers. He was first in the league there, but not by a ton or on any sort of historic level. His OREB% last year is “only” 47th all time. Good, obviously, but not even the best he has ever done. It was Defense Rebounds were he did something kind of crazy. 38% of DREB%. Highest percentage ever! Just beats out Rodman (who has 2 and 3). If the Nets had played at a faster pace of play (resulting in more shots) or had had a better defense (resulting in more misses) you would have seen some truly crazy rebound numbers from Reggie. Even as it was, once he got consistent run, you were often looking at 20 rebound nights. 
      Lopez might rebound more when playing next to someone other than Reggie. He is improving as he gets older, stronger and more experienced. But his OREB numbers were best in his career last year on a PER 36 Min basis (3.3) or on a OREB% basis (10.8). There is room to grow in both cases, but Lopez wasn’t bad last year based on those numbers. And these were the best he has ever done.

  5. Incidentally, and I know I’ve gone overboard on this rebounding and Reggie stuff, but former Net Jayson Williams was one of the best offensive rebounders ever. His best years at OREB% are better than Reggie. And on a per 36 min basis they blow Reggie out of the water (those Nets teams played a lot faster, so more possessions and thereby more misses). J Williams basically had multiple years in a row where he got 5 to 6 Offensive Rebounds per 36 minutes. That is kind of unreal when you think about how many extra possessions that it. He was a great rebounder.