Every time a Piston player grabs a defensive rebound, that helps Detroit’s defensive-rebounding percentage. On a simple level, the Pistons who individually grab the highest percentage of available defensive rebounds help Detroit’s defensive-rebounding percent the most.
Greg Monroe is grabbing 24.1 percent of available defensive rebounds this season (first on the team), and he pulled in 20.4 percent last year (third on the team). So, it stands to reason the Pistons rebound defensively better when he’s on the court.
But that’s not the case.
The Pistons get 71.4 percent of defensive rebounds when he’s on the floor, 13th on the team. Last year those numbers were 71.8 and ninth.
That’s obviously problematic, because it doesn’t matter whether Monroe or another Piston grabs a rebound. Either way, the Pistons get the ball.
For the most part, in the last three years, other Pistons’ individual rebounding rates have correlated with the team’s rebounding rates while they’re on the floor.
*Starting guards to have higher team defensive rebounding rates than their individual rates would suggest. I would guess that’s due to playing mostly with starting bigs, who are the team’s best rebounders.
So why do the Pistons defensively rebound so much worse when Monroe, one of their best defensive rebounders is on the floor? Here are five theories:
1. Monroe mostly grabs rebounds that would have gone to his teammates rather than securing the rebounds that would have gone to the opponent. After watching many Monroe rebounds on MySynergySports, I don’t think that’s the case.
2. Monroe’s floormates expect him to get all the rebounds and don’t compete as hard for rebounds when he’s on the court. (This is a theory Patrick floated.) I also don’t think this is the case, considering Monroe’s minutes have come with many different players in the last two years, and the results have been the same. But it’s possible there’s a greater tendency to defer to the team’s top rebounder.
3. The Pistons’ scheme is overly reliant on Monroe grabbing defensive rebounds when he’s on the court, but is more balanced when he’s not. For the same reason I don’t buy No. 2, I don’t buy this one. John Kuester and Lawrence Frank, for the most part, run different schemes.
4. Monroe doesn’t tip many loose rebounds to teammates. Either he collects the ball, or he doesn’t. When he comes close but can’t easily secure it, he still goes for getting it himself rather than helping a teammate get it.
5. Monroe does a great job positioning himself for rebounds and getting in front of his man, but he’s not the best at blocking out. That helps him get a lot of rebounds, but when they don’t go where he is, he’s not doing much to keep the opponent from beating his teammates to the ball.
Of course, there’s a sixth possibility: This is all statistical noise, and the numbers are unfairly influenced by who Monroe plays with and which opponents he’s happened to play against. That’s certainly possible.
But for the rest of the season, I’ll be watching Monroe’s defensive rebounding more closely.
Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.