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Who Replaces Ed Davis’ Rebounding for the Trail Blazers?

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With former Blazer big man Ed Davis moving on, who will step up on the boards?

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Davis is gone and it is time to figure out how the Trail Blazers will adjust. (Yes, I miss Ed Davis as much as anyone. I’m wearing my “Property of Ed Davis” sweatshirt as I type this.) One of the things that I think (okay, worry) about is who will devour all those rebounds that he once ate up?

Last year the Blazers were fourth in the league in the number of rebounds per game (45.5) and fourth in rebounding percentage. In two of the three seasons Davis was with the team, the Blazers finished in the top five in the league in rebounds per game and in the top 10 in rebounding percentage. The exception was 2016-17, the year that Davis was hampered by a shoulder injury which eventually shut him down.

Davis never grabbed the most rebounds on the squad, but he did lead the team in rebounding percentage (during his two healthy seasons), meaning the percentage of available rebounds he was able to grab while he was on the court.

Ed Davis Rebounding in Portland

Ed Davis Reb per game Team rank REB % Team rank
Ed Davis Reb per game Team rank REB % Team rank
2017-18 7.4 2 18.8 1
2016-17 5.3 4 14.9 2
2015-16 7.4 5 16.8 1

*All stats come from stats.nba.com.

I’m primarily thinking about how the bigs might distribute those rebounds. Here is how the rest of the centers and power forwards rebounded last season. I’ve included the per 100 numbers to get a better handle on Meyers Leonard and Caleb Swanigan, since they will likely see more playing time this year.

Trail Blazer Big Man Rebounds 2017-18 Regular Season

Player Reb per game Per 100 Reb %
Player Reb per game Per 100 Reb %
Jusuf Nurkic 9 16.3 16.2
Meyers Leonard 2.1 12.8 14.4
Caleb Swanigan 2 13.5 13.9
Al-Farouq Aminu 7.6 12.3 12.1
Zach Collins 3.3 10.4 10.5

With limited playing time last season Leonard and Swanigan contributed around 2 rebounds per game. Presumably, Collins’ rebounding percentage was lower than the rest because he played most of his minutes alongside Ed Davis. It looks like there should be room for growth from all of these players.

For fun, here are preseason stats for the bigs:

Trail Blazer Big Man Rebounds 2019 Preseason

PLAYER Reb per game Per 100 Reb% Increase
PLAYER Reb per game Per 100 Reb% Increase
Jusuf Nurkic 8 19.6 18.7 Yes
Caleb Swanigan 4 9.9 14.1 Yes
Zach Collins 6 12.4 12.9 Yes
Al-Farouq Aminu 4.3 10.4 10.2 No
Meyers Leonard 3.2 9.4 9.9 No

Jusuf Nurkic, Caleb Swanigan and Zach Collins all saw an uptick in rebounding percentage this the preseason. Aminu and Leonard both saw their rebounding numbers drop. Expect things to fluctuate at the beginning of the season while Stotts decides which combinations work best.

I am curious if Leonard will rebound more once the regular season starts. From what I saw in the preseason games, he appeared to do a lot of boxing out when there was activity under the basket. If he and Collins play alongside each other (which I think they will but don’t hold me to it), this would make sense since Leonard’s bigger body and superior strength is better suited to keeping players away from the ball while Collins can move quickly to grab the ball.

Swanigan is a bit of a mystery. Of all the bigs, he seems like the player who is hungriest to rebound. I will be watching to see what player combinations he is a part of and if those combinations feature his rebounding or if his passing or shooting skills are more desirable.

What do you think? Who will fill Ed Davis’s shoes as far as rebounding goes this season? Let us know in the comments below!

xoxo Team Mom | @tcbbiggs