Kevin Love isn't the NBA's only great rebounder, but he's certainly among the league's most remarkable. Such can only be the case when classifying a player who once gobbled up 31 boards in a single contest; there is no explaining away Love's rebounding excellence, only reveling in all that he's been able to accomplish in a startlingly short amount of time.
There aren't really any trade secrets when it comes to rebounding effectively, but there are certainly factors that weigh in Love's favor.
A Nose for the Ball
There's no way around it: Elite rebounders have a knack for knowing where to be and when to be there. It's a skill born of experience and instinct, and though the former can be built up, the latter can't be gained or earned. It's just one among many such factors that separate good from great in the NBA, and thus one that marks the distinction between Love and so many talented athletes who just don't have the same incredible sense of timing.
Love's innate understanding of the ball's bounce positions him to best use all of the tricks of the trade. He plays probabilities well but also does a fantastic job of tracing a shot's trajectory. He works hard but also works smart; he finds the most efficient ways to fight for loose balls and compounds all kinds of information very quickly to put himself in a position to clean the glass.
Managing the Balance
Rebounders—like scorers or defenders or ball-handlers—are often marked by personal style. Cleaning the glass may so often be classified as workman-like or demanding of less honed skill, but the trade is nonetheless informed by particular approaches sharpened by distinct individuals.
Some choose to focus on the technique of rebounding and box-out their assigned man relentlessly. Others get by on pure effort or athleticism and thrive based on being the first to sprint to the ball. A much smaller group—of which Love is a card-carrying member—somehow excel in both categories.
Strictly speaking, Love is likely to be classified as a more technical rebounder, but we shouldn't undersell his capacity for grabbing out-of-position boards. Any carom that falls in his immediate vicinity is obviously forfeit, but some of what sets Love apart is his commitment to collecting rebounds far outside his immediate zone. He works relentlessly from the time the shot goes up until its formal collection, and often Love is the one doing the collecting.
An Unexpected Combination
Another part of Love's rebounding profile is his unique combination of physical assets. Most notably, a wide base and impressive mobility, two attributes that don't often arise in tandem. It's that combination that, more than anything, allows Love to be such a stylistically complex rebounder (as described above). Work ethic and on-court drive go a long way, but Love's basic propensity for rebounding is a product of his natural gifts.
Odd as it may sound to those who don't dig into the specifics of rebounding, having a little junk in the trunk goes a long way, and being able to compound that advantage with relative quickness goes longer yet.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!