Should the Raps emphasize offensive rebounding?
Although this article isn't about the Raptors, it's a very interesting read debunking the myth that offensive rebounding leaves teams vulnerable in transition defense, something I always thought to be true.
The Pacers were perhaps the league’s best offensive rebounding team — no. 4 in offensive rebounding rate during the regular season, no. 1 by a long shot in the playoffs — and the stingiest transition defense in the league by almost every available measure. There’s a fairly widespread assumption that it’s very hard to be good at both of these things. Crash the offensive glass aggressively enough to earn a meaningful number of extra possessions, and you’ll stab at your own transition defense.
“We understand it’s extremely difficult to be good at both,” says Frank Vogel, the Pacers’ head coach. “But I think you have to try to be good at both. There are a lot of opportunities to explore.”
If both big men are in the paint, Vogel expects them to pursue offensive rebounds. The third player will be a wing, typically the guy hanging out on the weak side along the baseline, Vogel says. Paul George has the size to be a solid offensive rebounder, and Stephenson brings a desirable combination of athleticism, anticipation, and a lunatic willingness to toss his body around. The other wing has to scramble back immediately upon the release of a Pacers shot, Vogel says. George Hill does the same, unless a given set play has him positioned along the baseline.
There are sub-rules. If David West shoots a 20-footer on the pick-and-pop, he’s supposed to get back on defense instead of chasing his miss; a second wing is then allowed to take West’s spot in the crashing hierarchy. And there are techniques, McMillan says. Modern NBA offenses often space the floor by having a shooter in each corner, and under the Vogel-McMillan system, one of those guys is supposed to hit the glass. But that player cannot just take a straight-line path along the baseline, McMillan says. Instead, he should loop from the corner up toward the foul line when a teammate shoots, and once along that path, decide midway whether he’s got a shot at the offensive board.
Following that curl pattern ensures the player will have already started retreating back on defense in case the rebound goes elsewhere, or if the player concludes he has no chance at it, McMillan says. Scrambling along the baseline would leave that player way behind the action.
The general conclusion the authors presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in March, based on data from the 2011-12 season, was that teams could net about four extra points per game by recalibrating their philosophy toward offensive rebounding — that teams were being too cautious.
Based on these findings, should the Raptors place more emphasis on crashing the offensive glass, especially now that our starting front court (Amir and Jonas) actually play in the paint?
EDIT: If the Raptors added an extra 4ppg last season, they would've increased scoring from 97.2ppg to 101.2ppg (a jump from 16th to 7th).