By John Hollinger
Has anyone checked out Pau Gasol’s rebounding numbers lately? With 22 boards Wednesday in a 107-106 overtime win in Milwaukee, he’s averaging 19.5 over his past four games and 12.7 for the season -- a total that will tie him with Dwight Howard for the league lead as soon as he’s played enough games to be eligible.
Gasol ranks 13th in the NBA in Rebound Rate at 19.3, but most of the players ahead of him on the list are specialists. Howard (third) and Tim Duncan (10th) are the only all-weather players pulling down a larger percentage of missed shots in their team’s games than Gasol is thus far. This is amazing in light of the fact that Gasol has never been thought of as a glass-eater -- his previous career high in Rebound Rate is a distant 16.3 and last season he was at 14.7.
While a popular theory is that Gasol has gone to the glass because he’s being starved of the ball on offense, that doesn’t explain the primary source of Gasol’s rebounds. Gasol’s Defensive Rebound Rate is slightly better relative to the league average, as he ranks fifth among power forwards in that category, but just ninth at the offensive end.
Whatever the cause, he’s having a career year in just 13 games since returning from hamstring injury. Shooting 57.0 percent from the floor and rebounding like he’s never done before, he’s helped offset poor starts from Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher in the Lakers’ 20-4 start.