- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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With training camp less than two months away, we’re examining some burning questions with the Brooklyn Nets.
Today’s question: Can they rebound?
Last season, the Nets finished second-to-last in both rebounds per game and rebound rate (the percentage of missed shots that a team rebounds). Only the Los Angeles Lakers were worse in those categories.
Former coach Jason Kidd was asked about his team’s inability to rebound all season long, but the problem never went away. The Nets, who began thriving when they went small/long, were able to somewhat overcome that weakness because of their ability to force turnovers, but it definitely hurt them.
So how did they go about fixing their rebounding problem this summer?
Umm ... well ... they didn’t.
Therefore, it’s going to have to be rectified internally. The hope is that new coach Lionel Hollins can help in the rebounding department.
In his final three seasons in Memphis, the Grizzlies finished second (2009-10), tied for ninth ('10-11) and 11th ('11-12) in rebounding rate.
Kevin Garnett, who is expected to return for his 20th season in 2014-15, averaged just 6.6 rebounds per game last season, which led the team. Brook Lopez, who is coming off foot and ankle surgery, averaged 6.0 rebounds in just 17 games. Andray Blatche (5.3) and Paul Pierce (4.5) are gone.
The onus, then, falls on Lopez, who has never been a great rebounder, Mason Plumlee (4.4) and Andrei Kirilenko (2.3), who was hurt most of last season, to really step up and grab some caroms next season. Perhaps rookie Cory Jefferson figures to be in the mix as well.
I asked ESPN Stats & Information (via the Elias Sports Bureau) to provide some perspective on Garnett being the team’s leading returning rebounder given his low average.
The result: Garnett’s average (6.6) was the lowest among leaders in the NBA (min. 50 games played). It was also the lowest by a team leader in a season since the shortened 2011-12 season (min. 40 games played): Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte (5.8) and Tristan Thompson, Cleveland (6.5).
Rebounding is obviously a key aspect of basketball. Hollins is known to utilize more traditional lineups with two bigs, which should help. And if Lopez and Plumlee improve and Kirilenko stays healthy, that should help as well.
But this rebounding problem is definitely something that could haunt the Nets if they don’t fix it.