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They say records are made to be broken and, naturally, that applies to the Wine and Gold’s all-time rankings. But there are a few marks that may never be broken, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas probably holds at least one of them.
That all-time number is for career offensive rebounds – 2,336 of which Ilgauskas had hauled down during his dozen years with the Cavaliers. The next player on the list is Hot Rod Williams at 1,620 or exactly 716 behind Big Z. Anderson Varejao – who’s been breezing through most all-time lists this year, is still only about halfway there.
But today, we’re celebrating Z setting the single season mark – which he did in the 2004-05 season, snagging 299 offensive boards to top Jim Brewer, who totaled 298 in the Miracle year (1975-76).
Z’s record-breaking campaign was no fluke. He grabbed 279 as a rookie – good for fifth on the all-time list, tying Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who also netted 279 offensive boards in 2003-04. In fact, after setting the mark at 299, Big Z went on to grab at least 242 o-rebounds for the next three seasons.
The season Z set the mark might have been his best individual season as a pro. He averaged 16.9 points and 8.6 boards that year, blocked 165 shots and handed out 100 assists. His numbers dipped slightly the next season, but by then the Wine and Gold were about to become a playoff fixture for the rest of Z’s days in Cleveland – a tradeoff the Large Lithuanian would likely make every time.
Big Z’s all-time offensive rebounding mark might stand in the history books forever. But his single season mark was eclipsed last season by then-sophomore forward Tristan Thompson, who corralled 306 rebounds off the offensive glass – second in the league to only Memphis’ Zach Randolph.
As a member of the Cavaliers front office, Big Z has given Thompson plenty of tips on working in the post since they’ve been together in Cleveland. Maybe he spilled the secret to his success on the offensive glass. But aside from his good buddy, Anderson Varejao, there also probably isn’t a current Cavalier that Ilgauskas would rather see own the record.