Clippers, why can’t you make more effort to rebound?

Mar 19, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) steals the ball from Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) steals the ball from Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

A fundamental flaw of the Los Angeles Clippers’ play is their poor rebounding, which could be fixed so easily with some obvious changes.

For the most part, the Los Angeles Clippers’ performance in the absence of Blake Griffin has been admirable. Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan have all elevated their performance, the bench has improved, and the team has soared to 7th in defensive efficiency. Yet, two consistent problems have been rebounding and maintaining intensity, both of which can hurt the Clippers immensely and caused them to lose their last two games in embarrassing fashion.

With a losses to the Memphis Grizzlies (without Mike Conley, Matt Barnes and Marc Gasol) and New Orleans Pelicans (without Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis), the Clippers have fallen to two team inferior teams even if they were healthy, let alone when they were missing their best players.

Now, the Clippers have lost four of their last five games, causing the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 3rd seed to slip further and further out of reach.

A fundamental reason why has been a lack of rebounding. Against the Grizzlies, they were out-rebounded 30-44, and were destroyed 35-54 by the AD-less Pelicans. It’s no surprise that Redick has said the Clippers’ spirit is off right now and that they simply need to fight more, as besides other elements of weakness, rebounding is hurting the team and it could be improved so easily with more effort and awareness.

After these weak showings, the Clippers now rank 24th in the NBA in rebounds per game with 41.9. And over the last week since their 1-4 stint began, they rank dead last with a dismal 31.8, falling well shy of the 29th place Minnesota Timberwolves at 35.3.

So, let’s take a look at a few plays that highlight some of the Clippers’ struggles and general lack of purpose when it comes to rebounding.

In Memphis, Jerell Martin launched an early attack on the glass that the Clippers couldn’t stop, finishing the game with six offensive boards in only 12 minutes playing time. With efforts such as this, he outworked L.A.’s men down low.

Grizzlies 1st offensive board Gif
Grizzlies 1st offensive board Gif /

While Cole Aldrich did need to pursue the rebound, he left Martin completely open, leaving him an easy opportunity to contest for the board and get an easy basket. It’s one of many possessions where no boxing out and more fight from opponents cost the Clippers a defensive stop.

Next, with just seconds to go till the Clippers could have closed out the first half with the lead, Tony Allen elevated past Redick (in fairness, it’s not a physical matchup that favors Redick and he boxed Allen out initially) and Jordan backed away from the basket for some reason, leaving Zach Randolph free, too. Allen swooped in, gathered the board, and finished the layup with far too much ease.

In total, the Grizzlies finished with 18 offensive rebounds.

Tony Allen offensive rebound Gif
Tony Allen offensive rebound Gif /

When looking back to the Clippers’ remarkable 103-98 comeback victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder (winning after facing a 17-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter), they had a thrilling finish to the game, but were totally dominated on the boards (63-45) while surrendering 18 offensive rebounds.

With breakdowns in attention such as this, where a player who’s hardly a hyper-athletic rebounder to stop, Kyle Singler, strolls through three players — each failing to notice him or box out — to snatch an offensive board, it’s another way in which the Clippers make winning far more challenging than necessary. Neither Austin Rivers or Jamal Crawford noticed him, and Jordan (who’s still an elite rebounder, of course) made no attempt to elevate for the ball.

Kyle Singler offensive rebound Gif
Kyle Singler offensive rebound Gif /

Plays like these just indicate how easily the Clippers have been controlled when it comes to rebounding at times, and how constant spirit and physicality could help them improve in a fundamental aspect of the game that’s been letting them down.

Beyond the basic rebound totals and averages, some more in-depth numbers further reveal the weakness of the Clippers in contested situations. When looking at each player’s contested rebounding percentage, Aldrich is the only player on the roster with a mark above 40 (46). And except for Griffin and Jordan (38.5 and 36.8, respectively) everyone else has a percentage of no more than 33, meaning that every other player collects no more than one in three rebounds that are contested by an opponent (per

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The frustrating part of the team’s performance for Clippers fans is that their rebounding problems are so easy to solve. Yes, being forced to go small so often without Griffin doesn’t help. Jeff Green and especially Paul Pierce at power forward won’t be able to out-rebound tougher interior opponents, which is where Griffin’s size, strength and 8.7 rebounds per game are so sorely missed.

However, there’s still no excuse for others to rarely box out, idly standing by to give opponents easy opportunities to dominate the end of possessions. For everyone across the roster, it needs to change somehow and it primarily boils down to effort and some basic awareness.

Next: Jamal Crawford wants to play five more years, but should he?

Even though Griffin’s return and typical frontcourt rotations will help, it needs to change. And when the playoffs roll around and opponents like the Spurs and Thunder stand in the way, lackadaisical rebounding is going to be more costly when the importance of every possession is amplified.