5 Things We Learned From Lionel Hollins On Day One

5 Things We Learned From Lionel Hollins On Day One

1) He wants Brook Lopez to rebound.


If things don’t change soon for Brook Lopez, he might end up becoming the worst rebounding center ever.

At 7.3 rebounds in 33.2 minutes per contest, he’s the only center ever in NBA history to average more than 30 minutes and fewer than 7.5 rebounds per game in his career. His per-possession numbers tell the same story: his total rebound percentage of 12.9 is tied with Joe Barry Carroll, infamously nicknamed “Joe Barely Cares,” for the lowest among centers in NBA history who averaged at least 30 minutes per game.

Lopez’s rebounding woes have actually gotten worse over time: his highest rebounding rate came his rookie season, when he corralled a respectable 15.8 percent of all available rebounds (10 percent is the league average). But that was also on a team that featured starting power forward Yi Jianlian, who couldn’t rebound from a bad relationship, forcing Lopez into that role.

Hollins wants all that to change, and it’ll be one of his toughest tasks.

Lopez’s lack of continuity in his professional career might have something to do with it. Hollins is his seventh head coach (including interim) in as many seasons. He’s started next to Jianlian, a lanky shooter with few discernible NBA skills, Kris Humphries, best known for his 72-day fling with a socialite, Reggie Evans, a bulldozing rebounder with no other discernible NBA skills, and briefly Hall of Fame forward Kevin Garnett, a basketball monk hanging on by a thread who led the league in defensive rebounding percentage. As defensive-minded forwards became more and more common next to Lopez, his numbers began to dive.

Rebounding is a multi-step process: if you’re a big man, it often starts with finding a man to box out, and keeping him behind you as the ball ricochets. Lopez, when engaged defensively, has no issue getting this part done. But the second step — Evans, one of the league’s best rebounders ever, once put it simply, “just go ‘n get it” — is where Lopez gets stuck. Maybe after years of watching Humphries and Evans “get it,” he’s trained himself to hang back.

Hollins won’t accept that again. “I want him to be a rebounder,” the coach said. “We’ve had many conversations. That’s one of the things I’ll be challenging him on, not just rebounding but being better defensively, guarding the basket better and we’ve talked about that every day that I’ve run into him on the court. We talked about both he and Plumlee- they’re our rebounders. You have to come back and get the boards as our bigger guy and athletic big guy you have to rebound. You can’t win without securing the ball.”


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