How Nurkic remade the Blazers into a top rebounding team

PORTLAND, Ore. — Before Jusuf Nurkic arrived in Portland, the Trail Blazers were one of the worst rebounding teams in the league.

That was a surprising development, because rebounding has been a strength for the Blazers the past several seasons. But before the 2017 All-Star break, the Blazers ranked 23rd in rebounding rate, a statistic that measures the percentage of available rebounds a team collects during a game.

BLAZERS REBOUND RATE

A look at the rebounding rate for the Portland Trail Blazers the past four seasons, with NBA rank in parentheses:

  • 2016-17: 49.8 (18)
  • 2015-16: 51.0 (10)
  • 2014-15: 50.7 (10)
  • 2013-14: 51.6 (7)

Being a good rebounding team doesn't necessarily guarantee success. Included in the top 10 in rebounding rate this season were non-playoff teams like the Denver Nuggets (second), Detroit Pistons (fifth), Minnesota Timberwolves (seventh) and Phoenix Suns (10th). That's not to say it's not an important stat. Some of the best teams in the NBA, like the Spurs and Warriors, were also in the top 10.

VIDEO: Jusuf Nurkic offensive rebounding

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Where it can make a big difference to a team's fortunes is on the offensive glass, particulary in how often those offensive rebounds are converted into second-chance points through putbacks. The teams that led the league this season in points per game on putbacks were the Hawks, Celtics, Clippers, Warriors and Rockets. Those teams all made the playoffs and won an average of 54 games.

BLAZERS PUTBACKS PER GAME

A look at the points per game scored on putbacks by the Portland Trail Blazers the past four seasons, with NBA rank in parentheses:

  • 2016-17: 6.0 (16)
  • 2015-16: 6.8 (11)
  • 2014-15: 6.9 (13)
  • 2013-14: 7.9 (4)

Without Nurkic, the Blazers were a poor offensive rebounding team last season. ranking 20th in offensive rebounding rate. They also didn't generate many second-chance points. WIthout Nurkic, the Blazers averaged just 5.7 points per game on putbacks, which ranked 22nd in the league.

BLAZERS OFFENSIVE REBOUND RATE

A look at the offensive rebounding rate for the Portland Trail Blazers the past four seasons, with NBA rank in parentheses:

  • 2016-17: 23.0 (17)
  • 2015-16: 25.9 (3)
  • 2014-15: 24.2 (20)
  • 2013-14: 28.0 (3)

Once Nurkic arrived, his presence transformed the Blazers into one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league. With Nurkic on the court, the Blazers' offensive rebound rate was 28.6, which would rank first in the NBA.

Those extra chances generated more points, too. With Nurkic on the court, the Blazers' increased their points per game on putbacks to 6.8, which would rank 11th in the NBA.

Jared Cowley is a digital producer for KGW.

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© 2017 KGW-TV


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