The Detroit Pistons are 1-4, comfortably where most people expected them to be through five games. Despite the losses, there have been some positives to extract, one being the team’s rebounding.
Rebounding has always been somewhat synonymous with the Detroit Pistons. From Bob Lanier in the ’70s to Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman ’80s and ’90s to Ben Wallace as the anchor of a championship team in 2004, the Pistons always seem to have a solid rebounding core.
After trading Christian Wood and Andre Drummond (the league leader in rebounds in four of the last five seasons) before the start of this season, it looked like the Pistons were conceding below the rim. So far, this has not proven to be the case.
In the first five games, the Pistons have 242 rebounds for an average of 48.4 per game, 4th in the NBA. Perhaps even more surprising: 63 of those (12.6 per game) are coming on the offensive end, an average which is the best in the league.
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Obviously, rebounding is only a small facet in the larger picture, which explains why the Pistons have only won one game. Defensively, the Pistons secure 82.5% of rebounds, which is an excellent number (only the Bucks perform better).
Mason Plumlee accounts for a large percentage of these, pulling in 7.6 a game. Yet, the team still has an average defensive rating on paper and gives up a lot of points on the court. This is because the individual defense is lacking; opponents are not taking a high volume of shots, but they are making a high percentage of them.
The offensive end is even more surprising. The Pistons get nearly 13 offensive rebounds per game, again with Plumlee getting the lion’s share. Isaiah Stewart has also proven to be especially dominant in this area. His intensity is infectious: he always seems to be contesting the ball whenever he is on the court. Despite his limited minutes in only three games, Stewart is the only other Piston with offensive rebounds in the double digits (12).
Again, though, this tells only a fraction of the story. While the Pistons lead the league in offensive rebounds, this does not always translate into points. The team is scoring 13.8 second-chance points per game and converting 6.3 points on putbacks.
While definitely good–13.8 is in the top third percentile for the league–other teams are doing more with less. If the Pistons want to up their offensive output, they will need to convert at a consistently high rate.
Overall, the Detroit Pistons have played up to their potential in the early parts of this season. There is plenty of room for improvement, sure, but there are things they do well. Controlling the rebound is definitely one of them.