The Memphis Grizzlies have quietly earned a 43-19 record this season and have crept into the three-seed in the NBA’s Western Conference. Memphis is a team that relies heavily on smart basketball and on their players’ willingness to do the dirty work on defense and on the glass. It’s no surprise then that the Grizzlies’ success coincides with how well they rebound on defense.
It’s important to first note that the Grizzlies play almost the exactly same pace in their wins and their losses. This means that there are roughly the same number of possessions in every game, meaning their rebounding numbers aren’t skewed by outliers.
In their 43 wins this season, the Grizzlies have averaged 31.1 defensive rebounds per game. They also have a defensive rebound percentage of 75.8 percent in those 43 games. They’re collecting over three-fourths of the rebounds that are up for grabs when they’re on defense in the games that they’ve won.
Contrarily, the Grizzlies’ defensive rebounding numbers have been much less impressive in their 19 losses this season. In their losses, Memphis averages just 26.1 defensive rebounds per game, five fewer than in their wins. Their defensive rebound percentage also drops to 71.4 percent in games that they’ve lost.
The reason that their defensive rebounding is so important to their success is because of the style that they play. Memphis doesn’t have a high-powered offense. Subsequently, they rely heavily on their defense to win them games. When they aren’t grabbing defensive rebounds at a high rate, they’re allowing their opponents to get second-chance opportunities. When they allow teams to get second-chance points, that renders their defense less effective.
Rebounding is already a focus of the Grizzlies and something that they do incredibly well with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol anchoring their interior. However, as they near the NBA Playoffs, they need to make sure that they stay focused on the defensive-boards. When they limit their opponents’ second-chance points, they are way more effective and it usually results in a victory.