Much of the media focus on Greg Oden has been on his difficulty staying on the court due to foul problems, and the rough edges on his offensive game. These are skills that develop over time, and he will make great strides over the next year or two.
But his rookie year rebounding exceeded even my high expectations for Greg as a 1st pick in the draft. And rebounding is much more stable from year to year. Mediocre rebounders usually stay mediocre, and don't develop into great ones. We've got something really special in Greg, and I think it's being overlooked by many who grumble about his fouls and offense.
Basketball-Reference.com has advanced stats for offensive rebounding %, defensive rebounding %, and total rebounding %. These measure the percent of all rebounds that happened while a player is on the court that were grabbed by the player in question.
Greg's rookie year numbers are sky high, and compare well with the rookie years of some of the great rebounders of all time. Look at the following table, which compares rookie year stats for some of the all time great rebounders. Old timers Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Nate Thurmond are not on the list, because their play predated these stats. They'd probably be at the top. I've sorted the list by ORB%, because ORs are less common and more important.
Player ORB% DRB% TRB%
Olajuwon 16.9% 20.4% 18.7%
Oden 15.7% 24.5% 20.0%
Rodman 15.6% 15.3% 15.5%
Moses Malone 15.5% 23.6% 19.7%
Buck Williams 13.7% 26.6% 20.1%
Shaq 13.4% 27.1% 20.6%
Barkley 12.9% 20.8% 16.9%
Dwight Howard 12.2% 22.2% 17.3%
David Robinson 11.7% 24.8% 18.5%
Duncan 10.5% 23.8% 17.6%
Garnett 9.1% 17.0% 13.1%
For offensive rebounds, Greg's rookie year is right there with Rodman and Moses Malone, and above Buck Williams and Barkley. These are considered the 4 greatest offensive rebounders of the last 35 years.
As a defensive rebounder, Greg is up there with Robinson, Duncan, and Moses Malone, and below only Shaq and Buck Willliams.
Among active players on the list, Greg's rookie year TRB% is on par with Shaq's and exceeds those of Dwight Howard, Duncan, and Garnett.
Greg's great rebounding gets masked by his playing time, which is shortened by his foul problem. As he gets his foul problem under control, I think he'll be the leagues leading rebounder.