I wasn’t even aware of this—maybe it’s new—but I realized just the other day that NBA.com maintains ‘box out’ stats which basically break down the number of times a player boxes out per game and how often the team or the player gets the rebound on those box outs.
Naturally, I was intrigued given my theory regarding Trevor Ariza’s absence last season and its impact on the team. As you’re aware, the Rockets finished 29th in basketball last season in DREB% – it was their Achilles heel. While the commentariat thought Ariza’s loss would be felt defensively, my theory was that because his raw rebounding numbers weren’t impressive (just 4.4 rebounds per game), he must have been doing something else that affected the team on the glass. The subtraction of Ariza was the only major change to the rotation from the 2017-2018 playoff roster.
Oddly though, I discovered that Ryan Anderson averaged a team leading 6.1 box outs per game, and 4.8 defensive box outs per game. These were figures even higher than those boasted by Clint Capela.
So you could possibly argue that losing Anderson last season had some impact on the team’s decline though of course he was almost completely out of the rotation by the time 2017-2018 was wrapping up. This maybe doesn’t tell us much but interesting nonetheless. While injuries the past few years robbed Anderson of the athleticism that once made him a productive rebounder, he was still doing the fundamental things to help out his team.