Ersan Ilyasova is good at getting offensive rebounds … but what happens after that?

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.


Categories: Bucks Player Features

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  1. Just wanted to say nice work to all you guys at Bucksketball. Been a fan for years and always enjoy reading your posts. Also wanted to give a shoutout to Ian who has been doing an exceptional job so far this year been funny and very informative (borderline weird with the Ekpe stuff) but other than that it’s all good haha. Keep up the good work fellas, looks like you all will have alot to write about as it appears we will be having a roller coaster type season

  2. Yeah top-notch stuff here. As usual, this website is my first place to check in the morning, and I go to it more than most other sites as well.

  3. Yeah, between you guys, Brew Hoop, and Behind the Buck Pass, this is the most reading content that’s seemingly ever been available to us Bucks fans. Great to have this year, keep it up!

  4. “Thinking in this regard has to evolve from I can, so I should to I can, but should I?”

    When should one ever not grab a rebound?

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  6. This is kinda dumb, offensive rebounds are ALWAYS good, even if you shoot 1% after securing the rebound, it’s points you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Also, tip in attempts, of which Ersan gets plenty of, are often off-balance and difficult shots to make, yet still count as offensive rebounds and shot attempts. This can lower FG% significantly. Personally, I’ve never been upset over an offensive rebound, and i’m not sure what the problem is.

    • Thanks for reading.

      Here’s the thing, determining whether you have good offensive rebounders that can score off of an offensive rebound efficiently can help you set your strategy. For example, the Celtics never go for offensive rebounds, instead opting to send everyone back on defense. This isn’t about getting points. It’s easy to get points in the NBA. It’s so easy to get points in the NBA that there’s no such thing as “points you wouldn’t get otherwise.” It’s about getting points efficiently. Someone scoring 44% of the time off an offensive rebound is not efficient.

      • So it’s more of a strategy problem than anything else? I could agree with that, but i’d have to disagree that it’s easy to score points in the NBA. Just a season ago the Bucks couldn’t score at all. Moreover, Joakim Noah is one of the worst offensive rebound finishers in the league according to the chart above. Which, I specifically remember the Bulls breaking Milwaukee’s back the past few seasons with aggressive offensive rebounding from Noah and Boozer, specifically. Clearly the Bulls invest a lot of effort into offensive rebounding and are still arguably the best defense in the NBA. I didn’t mean to be derogatory when I said this was “dumb” either, but I don’t necessarily agree that it’s something we should worry about.

        • There are consequences to every action and the consequences have to be considered to decide if that action is worth it.

          The Bulls hyperaggressive offensive rebounding strategy actually makes it really tough for teams to get transition buckets because they have to invest so many guys to get their boards. It’s mostly something Gibson, Noah, and Asik did. Boozer is not a good offensive rebounder. They have the personnel to get away with this (no Asik anymore) strategy and they still get a positive result out of it. This is something that really only happens for the Bulls because they’re so elite at rebounding.

          I did not point this out because I wanted to focus on the offense generated after the rebound.

          If the offensive rebound doesn’t lead to something positive, then it is nothing more than padding stats. It’s something the Bucks should worry about, if they’re devoting players to offensive rebounding while getting points inefficiently and not getting any defensive advantages, then the rebounding is a bad thing because it will lead to the other team scoring more often than not.

          And yeah, I know how Ersan rebounds, but other guys convert offensive rebounds into field goals easier. They get two hands on the ball. They keep the ball high after they come down. Like I said, the guys at the top score at the initial contact with the rebound. They have higher rates of kicking the ball out to restart the offense.

          After Ersan grabs the offensive rebound, I want good things to happen. I’M SORRY FOR THAT.

          And scoring is easy. Just ratchet up the pace and any team can put up 110 a game. This is pretty much what basketball was like until the 90s. Games had higher scores, but FG% were lower. So this is pretty much proven by decades of basketball. It’s scoring efficiently that’s hard.

          • Alright Ian, I can respect where you’re coming from. Those are some good points, but I still maintain that the Bucks couldn’t score to save their lives in 2010-11.

          • I don’t know Ian…… the big men of every team are vying for every reachable rebound, whether it be offensive or defensive, including the celtics. Maybe the guards are more concerned about getting back but I don’t think this strategy is commonly employed with the bigs.

            “And scoring is easy. Just ratchet up the pace and any team can put up 110 a game. This is pretty much what basketball was like until the 90s. Games had higher scores, but FG% were lower. So this is pretty much proven by decades of basketball. It’s scoring efficiently that’s hard.”

            shooting percentages actually peaked in the 80’s and started tailing off in the late 90’s.

          • That’s because the 3P shot became more prominent in the game after the 80s. You need to take things in context.

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