On the Rebound

Last line of defense – grabbing the rebound – sinking Pistons so far

The Pistons look to improve their defensive presence--especially rebounding.
Andrew D. Bernstein (NBAE/Getty)
The Pistons could neither celebrate nor savor Greg Monroe’s triple-double at Sacramento, the rare feat of a center accomplishing what’s usually reserved for ball-dominant playmakers dulled because their defense again betrayed them.

Rebounding is often discussed separately from defense, but the Pistons’ 0-5 start should serve as a bleak reminder that a defensive possession isn’t complete until a defensive rebound is secured. And the Pistons in the early going have been worst in the NBA at the task of accomplishing the final stage of defensive possessions.

To be sure, the Pistons have other issues they must address defensively, starting with keeping ballhandlers from penetrating the middle. But the most stark evidence of their defensive shortcomings is their defensive rebounding percentage, which with Wednesday’s loss at Sacramento sunk below 60 percent.

In a world where 75 percent is considered the baseline, that’s a number that leads to a 0-5 start.

“You look at the preseason, that was one of the things we were good at,” Lawrence Frank said before Wednesday’s game, in which the Pistons grabbed 23 of the 37 available rebounds on their defensive end, dropping their defensive rebound rate from .614 to .596. “Our rebound percentage was best in the league or second best.

“Sometimes it’s the old football term of putting a hat on a hat. Sometimes we are matched up and we’re not driving back; we’re trying to attack their upper body as opposed to going for their lower body and we’re not hitting first. Sometimes it is small-on-big situations because of getting broken down off the dribble and not helping with the next man and our big, as the last line of defense, has to step up. Some of it is in transition, numbers, so kind of a multitude of different reasons why we’re in this predicament.”

“We’ve got to box out – it’s as easy as that,” Jonas Jerebko said. “People crash our offensive glass, and not just with one or two guys; it’s three or four guys coming in there. We’ve got to just put a body on people. It’s as easy as that. We’ve got to box out.”

Jerebko’s point about opposing teams sending multiple players to the offensive glass is supported by the numbers. Sacramento had seven different players record at least one offensive rebound. At Denver on Tuesday, in which the Pistons surrendered a season-high 21 offensive rebounds, eight of the nine Nuggets to play grabbed at least two offensive rebounds apiece. Against Phoenix and the Los Angeles Lakers, seven players registered at least one offensive rebound. And in the season-opening loss to Houston, six Rockets came away with an offensive rebound.

“It’s a mindset mentality where both as individuals and as a team, the most important ingredient is to win,” Frank said. “You’re not worried about anything else other than executing your defensive game plan, being locked in, being able to both on the ball be in the proper position and off the ball be in the proper position, being solid, eliminate some of the needless gambles, protecting our paint first, reacting out, blocking out, finishing your defense with a contest and gang rebound. Those are the things it takes.”

The Pistons have had difficult with many of those steps along the way to completing a successful defensive possession – none more than that critical last step, securing the defensive rebound.