Keys to Defeating the Kings: Rebounding and Boxing Out


Through all the issues that shone through the preseason for the Los Angeles Clippers, only one truly bothered Doc Rivers and that was rebounding.

“If you guys want to talk about an issue, that’s what you all should be focusing on,” said Rivers prior to the Clippers preseason matchup against the Utah Jazz. Ten days later, Rivers repeated the sentiment following a preseason matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers.

“I don’t know what they are, other than rebounding,” Rivers said when asked his areas of concern … So that’s still a very big concern. And, honestly, I’ve gotta do a better job. I’ve gotta figure out something better to make us a better rebounding team.”

Fast forward a few weeks and two regular season games later and rebounding is still an issue, and going up against a Sacramento Kings team who currently ranks second in the NBA in rebounds at 49.5 per game, it could make or break whether the Clippers reach 3-0.

"“I’ve gotta figure out something better to make us a better rebounding team” – Doc Rivers"

To be specific, keeping the Kings off the boards and from collecting offensive rebounds will be key. Through their first two games, the Kings have pulled down 14.5 offensive rebounds per game.

With DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, and Spencer Hawes expected to grab the bulk of the rebounds throughout the season, these three must do a better job of boxing players out of rebounding position.

Take this play against the Oklahoma City Thunder. After the shot is put up, DeAndre Jordan is in perfect position to 1) effectively box out Steven Adams and 2) grab the rebound.

Instead of turning to box out Adams, Jordan continues the awkward frontward box-out, allowing Adams to grab the board. Had Jordan turned around for the traditional boxout, Adams would’ve had to go through Jordan and Jordan’s athleticism to grab the rebound, likely resulting in a foul on Adams.

In a similar play against the Los Angeles Lakers, Blake Griffin not boxing out Carlos Boozer allows Boozer to sidestep him in route to the rebound.

Another issue, one that shouldn’t exit at this level, is effort.

Watch below as Jordan falls asleep watching Boozer attack the rim instead of finding his man and boxing him out. By doing nothing, Jordan Hill easily steps in front of DeAndre Jordan for the box out and rebound.

The same thing occurs with Jordan and Hill a quarter later — Jordan is in perfect position to box out Jordan as Carlos Boozer prepares for the jump shots.

Instead, Jordan falls asleep allowing Hill to slide in front of him for the rebound.

The final issue in regards to the Clippers rebounding? Team effort. In the photo above, notice there are more Lakers (Hill, Kobe Bryant) in position to 1) box out and 2) grab the rebound than there are Clippers (Jordan). This isn’t ideal of any team, regardless of who the center is, and Doc Rivers pointed this out also.

"Rivers did not mince words as he continued his explanation.“Sometimes I think they assume D.J.’s going to get it,” Rivers said, referring to post DeAndre Jordan, who in 2013-14 led the league with a 13.6 rebounding average. “So, ‘D.J.’s going to get it.’ I mean, you can see that on film. A shot goes up and everybody’s gone, except for D.J. Like, D.J., he’ll get it. Well, he can’t get them all. So we have to be a better rebounding team.via Doc Rivers, players know Los Angeles Clippers need to improve team rebounding (The Los Angeles Daily News)"

With Rivers speaking emphatically on rebounding, it’ll likely have been an emphasis in preparation for the upcoming stretch of games and there’s no better test than the Sacramento Kings to see if the team is hellbent on crashing the boards. As a league-average to below-average defensive team, especially with Matt Barnes looking like a former shell of his self, allowing more possessions by opponents isn’t ideal. The LeBron James-led Miami Heat teams of the last four years could get away with being an awful rebounding team because they were excellent at defending, protecting the rim, and creating turnovers.

But this team? They aren’t there yet meaning rebounding should be something all five players on the court want to dominate in. We’ll see if they turn the corner over the next few weeks.

More from Clipperholics