There's a metaphor in here somewhere....

The Knicks rebounded from that awful stretch before D'antoni resigned, and are now 8-1 under Mike Woodson, despite injuries to Amar'e, Lin, and Melo. Since I love rebounding, and Coach Woodson emphasises it right after 'Defense' (i.e. "Teams that play defense and rebound win championships"), I thought I'd do a little analysis of the Knicks' rebounding trends over the last 18 games.

Now.... if you look at the total rebounds a team gets in a game, it's easy to say "We beat them because we outrebounded them!". But this is a little misleading, because if the other team misses a bunch of shots and the Knicks miss less shots, the Knicks are not only going to have more points, they are going to have more chances at defensive rebounds (which are the easier kind to get).

I think a better way to look at it is to

a) Take the number of Knick offensive rebounds and divide it by the number of shots the Knicks missed.

b) Do the same thing for the opponent.

c) Compare the two numbers.

By my thinking, if the Knicks rebounded a higher percentage of their misses than the other team, they won the rebounding battle, regardless of who shot better or worse.


Let's look at the numbers:

Game Knicks O-bound pct Opponent O-bound pct Differential Result
Atlanta 2/22 33.33% 24.49% 8.84% Knicks by 17
Miami 2/23 29.17% 32.56% -3.39% Loss by 14
Cleveland 2/29 33.33% 34.09% -0.76% Knicks by 17
Boston 3/4 28.30% 20.69% 7.61% loss in overtime
Dallas 3/6 26.92% 20.41% 6.51% Loss by 10
San Antonio 3/7 21.82% 25.64% -3.82% loss by 13
Milwaukee 3/9 24.32% 35.42% -11.09% Loss by 5
Philly 3/11 23.40% 17.95% 5.46% Loss by 8
Chicago 3/12 20.93% 41.51% -20.58% Loss by 5
26.73% 28.20% -1.47%
Woodson arrives
Portland 3/14 29.73% 34.04% -4.31% Knicks by 40
Indiana 3/16 25.00% 18.37% 6.63% Knicks by 15
Indiana 3/17 31.11% 27.66% 3.45% Knicks by 14
Toronto 3/20 38.10% 11.11% 26.98% Knicks by 19
Philly 3/21 28.00% 21.74% 6.26% Knicks by 3
Toronto 3/23 18.87% 26.67% -7.80% Loss by 17
Detroit 3/24 45.00% 16.67% 28.33% Win by 22
Milwaukee 3/26 27.08% 16.67% 10.42% Win by 9
Orlando 3/28 38.10% 23.68% 14.41% Win by 22
30.73% 21.95% 8.78%

Generally, you can see that in the last 9 games under D'antoni, the Knicks' rebounding performance was highly variable, and included some spectacular deficits, as well as some decent performances. Overall, though, there was a deficit of 1.47 percent.

In the first 9 games under Woodson, the Knicks have clearly been consistently doing better in this regard. Overall they have outperformed their opponents by 8.78 percent, and have had some spectacular advantages, notably in the the frist Toronto game. It's clear Toronto set out to reverse that in the second game and did so successfully, resulting in a Knicks loss.

While there are many factors that go into determinating a game's outcome, clearly the Knicks have been consistently creating an advantage in this area, and it's helping them weather variations in shooting success.

I think the offensive rebound is a huge factor in a basketball game. Aside from the extra possession, when a team rebounds its own miss, their opponent is caught leaning toward the opposite end of the court, and are often out of position to defend. It is a blow to the other team's morale and energy. Woodson and the Knicks are smart to concentrate on winning this battle on a nightly basis. With Tyson Chandler and Melo, Shump, Smith, and Landry, the Knicks have a host of good rebounders and they are playing to their strength and giving themselves a chance to win the game even if they don't shoot well.

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