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Monday, January 2, 2012
Rebounding ranks near bottom of league

By Jeff Caplan

Rebounding is a significant shortcoming through the first five games.

No Dallas Mavericks player is averaging more than Dirk Nowitzki's 5.4 rebounds a game. Starting center Brendan Haywood is grabbing 5.2 rebounds in his 18.4 minutes a game. Shawn Marion is averaging 5.0 and only one other player, Lamar Odom (4.0), is averaging at least four boards a game.

The simplistic conclusion is that the Mavs have not found a way to replace Tyson Chandler, who averaged a team-high 9.4 rebounds last season. But, Dallas has a big front line and so much of rebounding is based on effort and determination.

Nowitzki, a 7-footer, has averaged 8.4 rebounds over his career. The 6-10 Odom, whose minutes have been greatly limited so far, is posting less than half his career average. Dallas' center tandem of the 7-foot Haywood and 6-11 Ian Mahinmi must be able to at least match Chandler's prior production. So far, they are combining to grab 8.4 rebounds a game.

As a team, Dallas ranks 27th in the league in both total rebounds (36.2 per game) and rebound differential (minus-9.4), meaning the Mavs are surrendering more than 45 boards a game. Twice Dallas has given up more than 50 rebounds, including a lopsided, 54-35 margin Sunday in the 99-82 loss at Minnesota.

Of course, the correlation is that Dallas' defense ranks last in the league in opponent field-goal percentage (48.5 percent), so there are a limited number of defensive rebounding opportunities. Conversely, the Mavs have been an anemic shooting team, ranking 23rd (40.8 percent), so the opponent has had plenty of rebounding chances.

Still, all those missed shots are offensive rebound opportunities and second-chance points waiting to happen. For example, the Timberwolves shot 42.4 percent Sunday, but grabbed 17 offensive rebounds for 19 second-chance points. The Mavs shot 37.7 percent, but managed just six offensive boards for nine second-chance points.

Dallas ranks 28th in offensive rebounds (8.0 per game) and is one of just seven teams to average fewer than nine offensive boards per game.

The simplistic conclusion is if the Mavs don't start shooting better, they better start hitting the glass -- at both ends -- with much more resolve.