Kevin Love and the Best Rebounders in San Antonio Spurs History


I was thumbing through this week’s Sports Illustrated when I came across a pseudo advertisement disguised as a public service announcement on the diet of the Cavaliers’ forward Kevin Love.  Apparently the guy doesn’t eat pasta and drinks coffee before each game.

What really struck me about the ad was the stat that Kevin Love had a game in which he had 31 rebounds.

We are consistently told about what a great rebounder Kevin Love is, and it is true that he is extraordinary.  Perhaps he is on the track to be one of the greatest ever.  The question we must answer and I’ll try to do so here, is just how good is he compared to the historically best rebounders in San Antonio Spurs history?

To establish a baseline, here are the rebounding statistics Kevin Love.

In his young career, Kevin Love has amassed 4514 total rebounds, putting him on track to be one of the best rebounders of all time.

We hear so much about Kevin Love’s rebounding ability yet fail to put it into perspective.

His average rebounds-per-season is 752. For comparison, the Spurs’ Tim Duncan has averaged 824 over his 17 year career.

Extrapolate Kevin Love’s average to the same career length as Duncan and you arrive at the total of 12,784.  That itself would be a great rebounding career.  That total would place him in front of the great Charles Barkley, and right behind Bob Pettit.

For some modern context, Houston’s Dwight Howard is on pace for 16,935 rebounds (if he can log a 17 year career at the current production).

The Spurs have a varied history of rebounding.

Tim Duncan is absolutely in the category of best rebounders in NBA history, having just reached the 14,000 milestone.  He is 11th on the all-time leaders list, and only 213 behind Walt Bellamy.  That total is certainly a great statement to his consistency and longevity.

What is a really interesting stat is that Manu Ginobili, from the guard position, is 10th on the Spurs list with 3056 career rebounds.

Tim Duncan does not, however, have any of the greatest rebounding seasons, or games, in Spurs history.  The following is a listing of the best rebounders to wear the Spurs uniform.

Total rebounds in a season

Dennis Rodman, 1,367, 1993-1994 season.

Second place is Swen Nater in 1975 with 1,279.

Tim Duncan is fifth on the list in 2002-2003 with 1,043.

Rebounds per game average

In the 1993-1994 season Dennis Rodman averaged 17.3 RPG.

Second place is also “The Worm” where in the following year he averaged 16.8.  Tim Duncan is fifth on the list with 12.9 rebounds per game in 2003.

Total rebound percentage

Dennis Rodman 1994-1995, 29.7 RPG.

So far this year, Duncan is on his best pace with a total rebound percentage of 20.3.

Career rebounds per game average

In a short stint in San Antonio Dennis Rodman simply produced.  His Spur-career average is an incredible 17.1 RPG.

Tim Duncan is behind Swen Nater and Manny Leaks for fourth place with 11.1 career rebounds per game.

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Career total rebound percentage

Ok, Dennis Rodman is again at the top with a career percentage of 27.1.  The really interesting players are the Spurs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th spots.

#4 is Tim Duncan with a career percentage of 18.5.  He is tied with the overlooked Nazr Mohammed, and followed by DeJuan Blair at 17.8.  All are above David Robinson (17.3) which is really quite surprising.

Most rebounds in a single game

Rodman does it again.  On January 22, 1994 against the Dallas Mavericks Rodman would net 32 total rebounds, including 9 offensive boards.  In fact, he would show up again with 30 total rebounds against the Houston Rockets in 1995.

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