I have often heard Spurs fans complain that the Spurs' poor rebounding or perceived lack of frontcourt depth/skill will prevent them from beating good teams in the playoffs and getting Timmy a 5th ring. This suggestion is usually followed by comments like "Blair is too short!" or "Duncan and Mcdyess are too old!" or "We should trade Tiago Splitter!" or "Did you see what happened to the Celtics in Game 7!"
However, a careful analysis suggests that any rebounding problems the Spurs have are non-existent or vastly overstated. After the break, I'll explain why this is true based on some commonly used rebounding statistics and explain why 3 myths are wrong, and allow us Spurs fans to take a deep sigh of relaxation.
Myth 1: The teams that have the best defensive rebounding rate are the best teams and the championship contenders!
Fact: According to Hollinger's defensive rebounding rate (DRR), the teams with the best defensive rebounding are... wait for it...
1. Golden State
Myth 2: The best teams are good at getting offensive rebounds!
Fact: Minnesota and Sacramento have the highest offensive rebounding rate (ORR), Celtics have the lowest.
Interstingly, the teams with the highest overall rebounding rate (REBR) are the best teams: the Spurs are 11th, but still right behind teams like the Bulls, Lakers, Heat, Magic. Although their rank is low, the actual difference is not nearly enough be the difference in a playoff series. Spurs are at 51% of all possible rebounds, NBA-best Bulls are less than 53% of all possible rebounds. Like I said, the difference is not large enough to lose sleep over.
Myth 3: This season, whenever the Spurs lose it's because they lose the battle of the boards!
Fact: The Spurs have only been out-rebounded in 5 out of their 10 losses. Out of those 5 losses, the difference in rebounds is only significant for 2 or 3 of them (the L to the Clips, Mavericks, and Bulls). I am assuming that a difference of 1-3 rebounds is not the reason the Spurs lost the other 2 or 3 games,
So out of the 57 games this far this season, the Spurs have lost at most two or three games because of rebounding woes. In fact, rebounding is the reason why the Spurs have WON many of the games against good teams this season, with Blair's domination of the offensive glass against the Lakers as a good example.
Even if the Spurs DID have a rebounding problem, their strength in other areas-- good defense, three-point shooting, lots of assists, efficient shots, balanced scoring, few turnovers-- arguably outweigh any possibly weaknesses on the boards. One could even argue that not only are the Spurs not championship ready, but in fact they have many of the qualities that most championship teams posses: age/experience, multiple offense threats, solid defense, good teamwork, a solid core that knows how to play with each other, etc.
Yes-- I understand that rebounding is more important in the playoffs than in the regular season, and that the regular season is often not a good indicator of what happens in the playoffs, but, at the end of the day, the Spurs have a legitimate frontcourt that plays solid defense and takes care of the glass.