There’s not much the 2012-13 Boston Celtics did worse than rebounding.
In fact, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to believe the Celtics might still be in the postseason had it been for better rebounding. Or at the very least, they would have received a higher seed.
Needless to say, it’s going to be a long summer of “what if’s” for Doc Rivers and Co.
Throughout the season, Boston was one of the NBA’s worst teams on the glass. The team ranked 29th overall in rebounding (39.3 RPG), while finishing last offensively (8.1 ORPG) and 12th defensively (31.3 DRPG).
Given Rivers’ tendency to quickly get back on defense following a shot, the offensive numbers aren’t surprising. However, the defensive numbers are another story.
Whether it’s poor boxing out or simple carelessness, the Celtics have been completely dominant on the defensive glass.
Over the year, the team has given up an average of 11.2 offensive rebounds a night. More often than not, opponents have capitalized on these opportunities, averaging a whopping 14.3 second-chance points per game. It’s even cost Boston a win.
Thankfully, the team has an entire offseason to make the necessary changes.
Fortunately, the Celtics don’t have to search far for a possible solution. They only need to look at their bench.
Sure, it’s the same group of players who put together a lousy effort on the glass this year. However, it’s very easy to forget the team played without several key players for the majority of the season.
If they’re all healthy, this roster has the potential to be a great rebounding group.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are two of the best options.
Although there has been speculation that both may leave Boston during the summer, the team would surely benefit from returning its top-two rebounders. Over the Celtics’ final 38 regular-season games, Pierce and Garnett combined to average 16 rebounds per game—40.8 percent of the team total. That number only increased during the playoffs, with the pair bringing down an impressive 19.4 per night (49.7 percent of the team total).
At 35 and 36 respectively, Pierce and Garnett have proven that age is just a number.
Then there’s superstar point guard Rajon Rondo.
Before missing the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, Rondo averaged 5.6 rebounds over 38 games. It was a mark that helped him lead all point guards in the league for the second straight season. Rondo also recorded 10 or more rebounds six times this season—five resulted in triple-doubles.
It’s always a good thing when a team receives help on the glass from its point guard.
But don’t forget newcomers Jared Sullinger and Shavlik Randolph.
Sullinger—the No. 21 overall pick in last year’s draft—averaged 5.9 rebounds over 45 games this season. Although his campaign was cut short due to a back injury, he made the most of his short time on the floor (19.5 MPG). It’s just unfortunate that Sullinger was shut down during the best stretch of his young career—7.2 rebounds over 23.2 minutes per game in 14 contests during January.
He’s definitely a player to look out for next season.
On the other hand, Randolph is a NBA journeyman who finally found his setting, averaging 4.4 rebounds over 12.4 minutes per game. Randolph also averaged a team high of 12.7 rebounds per 36 minutes. In the 16 contests he appeared in, Randolph finished with seven or more rebounds five times—only once did he need more than 15 minutes to accomplish the feat (13 rebounds in 22 minutes).
All in all, Boston has all of the pieces to become a successful rebounding team. It’s just about putting them all together correctly.
There’s no doubt that free agency would help. But what’s the point in adding a new toy to the collection before you get full use of your current selection?
The Celtics would be better off if they gave this roster a couple of months together to click. If it fails, there’s always the trade deadline.
Whether or not Pierce and Garnett return, Boston will be rebuilding in a sense.
What’s the point in rushing something the team might already possess?
Sometimes, patience is the best solution.