The CelticsHub staff is in Boston this weekend for the 2013 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Yesterday, Michael Pina and I discussed the results of a panel discussion and research paper called “To Crash or Not To Crash: A quantitative look at the relationship between offensive rebounding and transition defense in the NBA,” by MIT’s Jenna Wiens, Guha Balakrishnan, Joel Brooks and John Guttag.
You can read our back-and-forth in full over at True Hoop, but here’s one of the excerpts that touches on the ongoing discussion about Boston’s aversion to crashing the boards.
Pina: Just look at this: Three of the NBA’s top four defensive teams (Bulls, Pacers and Grizzlies) also rank in the top five for offensive-rebounding percentage, per NBA.com/Stats. The other defensive team is the Spurs. And where does their offensive rebounding rank? Dead last. Yikes.
DeGama: There’s an interesting bit of overlap between Chicago and Boston but it comes with wildly different results. Under Tom Thibodeau, Chicago has turned out the same kind of sexy defensive efficiencies his Boston teams did while he was working under Doc Rivers. Are we to believe Thibs has changed his perspective on offensive rebounding, that he never held the kind of antipathy toward it Rivers seems to, or are Chicago’s offensive rebounding feats just a function of his roster?
Pina: I’d be more inclined to believe it’s a function of having bears in the frontcourt. Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer (contract be damned, the man can board), All-Star center Joakim Noah, and — not this season, but in the past two — Omer Asik are superior to Kevin Garnett and a couple hobbled co-stars. The Bulls crash the offensive glass and hold down one of the league’s best defenses. If they could only score the ball, they’d have it all.
DeGama: I think the actionable insights in this area will come when we can account for those roster differences. Speaking of which, this November 2012 quote from Rivers makes it sound like the Celtics have rock-solid proprietary metrics that speak to their specific roster: “That is a number I rarely look at, offensive rebounds. Statistically, it holds up. I can tell you, you don’t offensive rebound, you stop [the opponent's] transition, you win more games than when you get offensive rebounds. I can guarantee you that on those stats.”
You can read the entire research paper at the Sloan Sports website right here.