The Philadelphia 76ers are the worst rebounding team in the NBA (literally)

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The National Basketball Association is comprised of thirty teams.

I, for one, always found that number sort of strange, as it creates two conferences with an odd number of teams that are split into three divisions each that also have an odd number of teams.

Would adding two more teams and going full NFL with four conferences make things easier? Yes. Would undergoing a pair of expansion drafts shake the association up in a fun way? Most definitely, especially if one of the new teams would be a relaunch of the Seattle SuperSonics. But hey, I digress.

So why, you may ask, am I musing about the size of the association? Well, because the Philadelphia 76ers rank dead last, 30th out of 30th, in a key statistical category that has haunted them all season long.

The Philadelphia 76ers can’t hardly buy a rebound.

As things presently stand, the Philadelphia 76ers average 42.1 rebounds per game. Is that good? No. Is that just okay? No. Okay, but surely that can’t be the worst figure in the NBA, right? No, it is; it really is.

But wait, it gets worse; through 28 games, the Sixers also rank dead last in offensive rebounds at a pitiful 8.4 and are only slightly better at defensive rebounding, with their 33.8 ranking 25th association-wide. If the Sixers didn’t rank first in blocks, 11th in steals, and fourth in turnovers per game, they’d surely have a much less advantageous win-loss total, but those extracurriculars have largely helped to make a woefully average team look slightly above the median.

So what gives? I mean, the Sixers have never been an elite rebounding team, not since 2018-19, anyway. They’ve never been this bad. What gives? Honestly, it’s the $177 million elephants in the room.

On paper, swapping out Dwight Howard for Andre Drummond is a rebounding upgrade. While Georges Niang isn’t particularly prolific on the boards, he’s no worse than Mike Scott, who filled the same role last season.

No, the biggest thing missing from the Sixers’ rebounding efforts is the same thing that’s bringing down their assist totals and points per game totals, the absence of Ben Simmons.

Now I know, I know, Simmons passed up a dunk at the end of Game 7 and couldn’t buy a bucket in any 4th quarter against the Atlanta Hawks. But even in 2020-21, a down year by his standards, Simmons still accounted for 14.3 points, 6.9 assists, and, most crucially, 7.2 rebounds to go with 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks. Just throw that rebound total onto the Sixers’ current average, and they immediately vault up to first overall league-wide, clearing the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks with 1.3 rebounds per game to spare.

*Sigh*, let’s hope whoever Daryl Morey gets back in a trade knows how to box out, because it’s clear Ben Simmons will never wear a Philadelphia 76ers jersey ever again.

No, Domantas Sabonis doesnt fit with the Philadelphia 76ers. dark. Next

So what can the Philadelphia 76ers do to alleviate their rebounding woes? Is there some magic adjustment they can make to get things right? Three words: Rebound the ball. When an opposing player’s shot goes up, collapse into the paint. When a teammate’s shot goes up, collapse into the paint. I know it sounds like a simple solution, but honestly, the only way to rebound the ball to get better at rebounding the ball is to actively rebound the ball, a lesson Doc Rivers should impart on his team as soon as possible.