Rebounding is one of the most fascinating skill sets in the game of basketball. To thrive one must be crafty, tenacious, and physical. Being an outstanding athlete helps, but is not necessary. The best rebounders have a nose for the ball, and the grit to go after it every time. Here are the best rebounders in NBA history.
Career rebounds per game: 13.1 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 23.4 TRB%
Dennis Rodman is widely regarded as one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history. His relentless pursuit of the ball and exceptional rebounding skills made him a dominant force on the boards throughout his career. Rodman played for several teams, including the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks.
Rodman’s rebounding prowess was evident from the beginning of his NBA journey. He led the league in rebounds per game for seven consecutive seasons from 1991 to 1998. His career average of 13.1 rebounds per game is an incredible testament to his ability to control the glass. Rodman’s tenacity and willingness to do the dirty work were instrumental in his teams’ success. He was known for his exceptional timing, positioning, and knack for getting rebounds even in the midst of taller opponents.
Offensively, Rodman’s rebounding skills provided his teams with numerous second-chance opportunities. He possessed a strong understanding of angles and an uncanny ability to anticipate the trajectory of missed shots, often outworking opponents for crucial offensive rebounds. His impact on the game went beyond just securing possessions, as his rebounding ability often demoralized opponents and provided an emotional boost for his team.
Career rebounds per game: 22.9 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 22.9 TRB%
Wilt Chamberlain, one of the most dominant players in NBA history, was equally impressive on the boards. Standing at an imposing 7 feet 1 inch tall, Chamberlain possessed remarkable size, strength, and athleticism, making him a force to be reckoned with in the rebounding department. He played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers during his illustrious career.
Chamberlain’s rebounding numbers are nothing short of astonishing. He holds the records for the most rebounds in a single season with 2,149 and the highest career rebounds per game average with 22.9 RPG. His remarkable rebounding ability was complemented by his incredible durability, as he averaged over 40 minutes per game throughout his career.
Chamberlain’s impact on the game through rebounding cannot be overstated. His ability to dominate the glass gave his teams a significant advantage in terms of possession and scoring opportunities. He had an uncanny ability to anticipate missed shots and position himself in the right place at the right time. Chamberlain’s dominance on the boards often resulted in easy putbacks, demoralizing opponents and providing his teams with crucial momentum swings. His rebounding prowess, combined with his scoring ability, made him an unstoppable force during his era and solidified his legacy as one of the all-time greats in NBA history.
Career rebounds per game: 22.5 RPG
Total rebound percentage: N/A
Bill Russell is widely regarded as one of the greatest winners in NBA history, and his rebounding prowess played a significant role in his team’s success. Russell spent his entire 13-year career with the Boston Celtics, where he established himself as one of the premier rebounders of his era. Despite lacking traditional size at 6 feet 9 inches, Russell’s incredible leaping ability, timing, and basketball IQ allowed him to dominate the boards.
Russell’s rebounding numbers are impressive, averaging 22.5 rebounds per game over his career. However, total rebound percentage data is not available for his era. What sets Russell apart from other rebounders is his ability to impact the game beyond statistics. He possessed an innate understanding of team defense and often used his rebounding prowess to initiate fast breaks and ignite his team’s offense.
Russell’s impact on the game can be measured by his championship success. He won an astonishing 11 NBA titles in his 13-year career, with rebounding being one of the key factors in those victories. His rebounding ability was not limited to individual efforts; Russell was an exceptional team defender and had a knack for boxing out opponents to create rebounding opportunities for his teammates. His unselfishness and commitment to winning made him an invaluable asset in the Celtics’ dynasty of the 1960s.
Career rebounds per game: 12.2 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 18.3 TRB%
Moses Malone, known as the “Chairman of the Boards,” was an exceptional rebounder who had a remarkable career spanning four decades. Malone played for multiple teams, including the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, and San Antonio Spurs. His rebounding prowess was a key element of his game and contributed to his status as one of the greatest centers in NBA history.
Malone’s career rebounding average of 12.2 rebounds per game speaks to his consistent dominance on the boards. His physical strength, quickness, and relentless pursuit of the ball allowed him to outmuscle opponents for rebounds. Malone was also an excellent offensive rebounder, capitalizing on missed shots to create second-chance scoring opportunities for his team.
Malone’s impact on the game went beyond his individual statistics. He was known for his work ethic and intensity, setting the tone for his teams on both ends of the court. His rebounding ability not only secured possessions for his team but also instilled a sense of toughness and determination. Malone’s rebounding prowess, combined with his scoring ability, helped him earn three NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards and propelled his teams to success throughout his career.
Career rebounds per game: 11.2 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 17.5 TRB%
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was not only a dominant scorer but also an outstanding rebounder. Standing at 7 feet 2 inches, Abdul-Jabbar’s height and wingspan allowed him to grab rebounds with relative ease. He spent the majority of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, where he left an indelible mark on the game.
Abdul-Jabbar’s career rebounding average of 11.2 rebounds per game demonstrates his consistency and effectiveness on the boards. His exceptional footwork and positioning, coupled with his long reach, made him a formidable presence in the paint. His ability to secure rebounds not only prevented opponents from obtaining second-chance opportunities but also ignited fast breaks, enabling his teams to quickly transition to offense.
Abdul-Jabbar’s impact on the game extended beyond his individual rebounding numbers. His rebounding ability, combined with his scoring prowess, made him an integral part of championship-winning teams. His dominance on the glass often forced opponents to commit extra defenders to box him out, creating openings for his teammates to grab rebounds or score. Additionally, his defensive rebounding skills allowed him to initiate fast breaks and set the tempo for his team’s offense. Abdul-Jabbar’s longevity and sustained success as a rebounder further solidify his status as one of the all-time greats.
Career rebounds per game: 11.7 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 17.8 TRB%
Charles Barkley, known for his larger-than-life personality, was also an exceptional rebounder during his NBA career. Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, Barkley’s rebounding prowess was a testament to his athleticism, strength, and relentless pursuit of the ball. He played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets throughout his career.
Barkley’s career rebounding average of 11.7 rebounds per game showcases his ability to dominate the boards despite being undersized compared to traditional power forwards and centers. He possessed a unique combination of strength and quickness, which allowed him to outmuscle opponents and position himself for rebounds. Barkley was also a tremendous offensive rebounder, using his agility and anticipation to secure second-chance points for his team.
Barkley’s impact on the game went beyond his rebounding numbers. His tenacity on the boards often provided a spark for his team, injecting energy and intensity into games. His rebounding ability also complemented his scoring prowess, as he frequently converted offensive rebounds into points. Barkley’s rebounding skills, combined with his versatility and scoring ability, earned him numerous accolades, including the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 1993. His impact as a rebounder and overall player solidify his place among the top rebounders in NBA history.
Career rebounds per game: 10.8 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 18.4 TRB%
Tim Duncan, widely regarded as one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history, was a dominant force on the boards throughout his illustrious career with the San Antonio Spurs. Standing at 6 feet 11 inches, Duncan combined size, fundamental skills, and basketball IQ to establish himself as an exceptional rebounder.
Duncan’s career rebounding average of 10.8 rebounds per game showcases his ability to control the glass. He had a keen understanding of positioning and timing, allowing him to secure rebounds in traffic and emerge with the ball. Duncan was also known for his exceptional outlet passing, often igniting fast breaks and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Beyond his individual statistics, Duncan’s impact as a rebounder was instrumental in the Spurs’ success. He was a key component of their defensive identity, consistently providing his team with second-chance opportunities while limiting opponents’ offensive rebounds. His rebounding ability, combined with his defensive prowess, contributed to the Spurs’ strong team defense and their ability to control the tempo of games.
Career rebounds per game: 10.0 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 18.9 TRB%
Kevin Garnett, known for his intensity and versatility, was a tenacious rebounder during his NBA career. Standing at 6 feet 11 inches, Garnett possessed the size, athleticism, and skill set to excel on the boards. He played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets, leaving an indelible mark on each franchise.
Garnett’s career rebounding average of 10.0 rebounds per game showcases his consistent ability to contribute on the glass. He was a fierce competitor who combined strength and agility to outrebound opponents. Garnett’s rebounding skills were not limited to one end of the court; he was equally adept at securing both offensive and defensive rebounds.
Garnett’s impact as a rebounder extended beyond his individual statistics. His intensity and leadership on the boards set the tone for his teams, inspiring them to compete at a high level. His rebounding ability also had a significant defensive impact, as he was an exceptional shot-blocker and used his length to alter opponents’ shots. Garnett’s dedication to rebounding and his overall impact on the game earned him numerous accolades, including the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 2004 and an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
Career rebounds per game: 10.9 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 17.4 TRB%
Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most dominant centers in NBA history, was a formidable presence on the boards throughout his career. Standing at 7 feet 1 inch and weighing over 300 pounds, O’Neal combined size, strength, and athleticism to overpower opponents and secure rebounds. He played for several teams, including the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics.
O’Neal’s career rebounding average of 10.9 rebounds per game demonstrates his ability to consistently control the glass. He used his massive frame and physicality to establish position and outmuscle opponents for rebounds. O’Neal’s rebounding skills were not limited to defensive rebounds; he was also a force on the offensive boards, often converting second-chance opportunities into points.
Beyond his individual statistics, O’Neal’s impact on the game as a rebounder was immense.
His ability to secure defensive rebounds limited opponents’ scoring chances and allowed his team to control the tempo of the game. Additionally, his offensive rebounding prowess often demoralized opponents, as they struggled to contain his size and strength. O’Neal’s rebounding dominance, combined with his scoring ability and presence in the paint, played a crucial role in his teams’ success, resulting in four NBA championships and multiple accolades throughout his career.
Career rebounds per game: 10.7 RPG
Total rebound percentage: 20.7 TRB%
Ben Wallace, known for his defensive prowess and relentless rebounding, left an indelible mark on the NBA with his exceptional skills. Standing at 6 feet 9 inches, Wallace’s rebounding ability was unmatched, as he consistently outworked opponents and displayed tremendous athleticism and timing. He played for the Washington Bullets/Wizards, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, and Cleveland Cavaliers throughout his career.
Wallace’s career rebounding average of 10.7 rebounds per game highlights his impact on the boards. Despite being undersized for a traditional center, his relentless energy and determination allowed him to dominate the glass against taller opponents. Wallace was particularly known for his defensive rebounding, where he would often snatch the ball off the rim and immediately initiate his team’s fast break.
Wallace’s impact on the game as a rebounder cannot be overstated. He anchored the defense with his rebounding skills, preventing opponents from obtaining second-chance points and securing possessions for his team. His exceptional rebounding prowess, coupled with his shot-blocking ability, made him a defensive force and earned him four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Moreover, Wallace’s tenacious rebounding inspired his teammates and set a high standard for defensive intensity. He consistently led by example, diving for loose balls and battling for rebounds, earning the respect of both teammates and opponents alike. Wallace’s rebounding proficiency, defensive presence, and overall impact as a leader propelled the Detroit Pistons to an NBA championship in 2004, solidifying his legacy as one of the premier rebounders in NBA history.
Career rebounds per game: 12.5 RPG
Total rebound percentage: N/A
Elvin Hayes, known as the “Big E,” was a dominant rebounder during his NBA career. Standing at 6 feet 9 inches, Hayes possessed a combination of strength, athleticism, and relentless pursuit of the ball, which allowed him to consistently excel on the boards. He played for the San Diego/Houston Rockets and the Baltimore/Washington Bullets during his career.
Hayes’ career rebounding average of 12.5 rebounds per game showcases his ability to control the glass. He had a strong nose for the ball and utilized his physical gifts to outrebound opponents. Hayes was an exceptional defensive rebounder, consistently snatching missed shots and initiating fast breaks for his team.
Hayes’ impact on the game as a rebounder extended beyond statistics. His dominance on the boards provided his teams with crucial possessions and limited opponents’ second-chance opportunities. His rebounding ability, combined with his scoring prowess, made him a versatile threat on both ends of the court. Hayes’ dedication to rebounding, coupled with his overall impact as a player, earned him multiple All-Star selections and a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame.