Offensive rebounding, like most things in basketball is dictated by the logic of kings – I do so because I can! If a player has the means and opportunity to grab an offensive board, as a general rule, he should grab it. But an offensive rebound is only as good as what happens after. Part of what makes a good rebounder is getting in position to make a play after the ball is secure. If a field goal, a shooting foul, or a new play doesn’t happen after an offensive rebound, then what was the point? It’s just a waste of everyone’s time. Thinking in this regard has to evolve from I can, so I should to I can, but should I?

Stay the hell away from that ball Marreese Speights

Just as an example of someone who is able to, but shouldn’t, let’s talk about Marreese Speights. Speights is a good at grabbing offensive rebounds. He has an 11.3 offensive rebounding rate (percentage of offensive rebounds grabbed while on the court). That’s good for top 35 among all players that averaged over 20 minutes in at least 40 games last season. The problem is that when he gets the ball, incredibly mediocre things happen.

76 percent of the time Speights chose to take a field goal attempt after a rebound. Speights shoots a truly awful 44 percent after an offensive rebound. What makes the problem worse is that only 13 percent of the time does a new offensive play start off of a Speights rebound. He won’t score and he won’t look to reset the offense. Speights is one of the last people I want grabbing an offensive rebound.

Where does Ersan Ilyasova fit?

There are four things that can happen when a player grabs an offensive rebound. He can take a shot in whichever way he can take a shot. He can also get fouled or turn it over. The fourth thing he can do is kick the ball out to start a new play. Synergy sports defines one offensive rebound possession as any that starts with an offensive rebound and ends in a field goal attempt, shooting foul, or turnover. That’s where I got the numbers for the first three possibilities. I assumed that subtracting total offensive rebound possessions from the total offensive rebounds a player had would yield the number of times that someone reset the offense.

Below is a chart of every player that had an offensive rebounding rate (ORR) of 10 or higher, averaged 20 minutes in at least 40 games, and wasn’t on multiple teams last season (Sorry Javale McGee, Marcus Camby, and JJ Hickson, but marrying that data together was too hard and I’m lazy). Field goal percentage, the percentage of times a new play started, and the percentage of shooting fouls after an offensive rebound are part of the data. I didn’t include the percentage of times Synergy counted a turnover because the percentages weren’t significantly different between players and defining what is a turnover in a rebounding scrum is a very, very messy thing. The data is sorted by field goal percentage

Here’s the order for best things that can happen after an offensive rebound:

  1. Made basket
  2. Shooting foul
  3. Reset offense

Ilyasova is bad at the first thing, but there’s really no reason why Ersan can’t convert better after offensive boards when his at the rim field goal percentage is 60.3%. And he’s a much better free throw shooter than both.

He’s great at the second thing. He’s third behind Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum in drawing fouls after a rebound.

He’s bad at the third thing, but I’m on the fence on whether that’s significant or not. There will always be moments where a field goal just isn’t in the cards after a rebound, so making the safe play of kicking it out and starting a new play is the best option. But unless you’re just awful at converting off a rebound like Speights or Brendan Haywood, it will always be more efficient to score off a rebound, then to reset the offense. Even though Ilyasova has a paltry FG% after offensive rebounds, he still scores 1.02 points per possession (PPP) which is significantly better than the Milwaukee Bucks team average of 0.91 PPP.

What can Ersan do to improve his FG%?

Ilyasova can’t do it alone. The guys that do convert well off of rebounds (Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka, Ryan Anderson), do so off the initial point of contact. Ilyasova doesn’t even have possession of the ball when he first touches a rebound. He’s a master of tipping it two or three times. By the time he’s secured the ball, he could be several feet from the basket or his body is not in any position to make a play.

Dalembert to the rescue

Of course, Ilyasova is a master of multiple tips because he has to be. There is no one else boxing out on the Bucks, so Ilyasova is often fighting two or three opposing players for the rebound. Samuel Dalembert can box out another player that Ilyasova doesn’t have to deal with. This should create many more opportunities for Ilyasova to score after the first touch. There are seven pairs of teammates in the chart above. I have nothing to prove it, but I there’s a decent chance that having a teammate who is a good offensive rebounder creates more rebounding opportunities and easier chances to score off those opportunities.

Therefore, the Bucks should try being hyper-aggressive on the offensive boards when Ilyasova and Dalembert are on the court at the same time.