Tim Duncan moves into top 10 in rebounds in NBA history. Why he doesn’t rank higher


With 10 rebounds in the Spurs’ win over the Pelicans yesterday, Tim Duncan passed Walt Bellamy to move into the top 10 in all-time rebounds.

That’s a nice milestone, but I couldn’t help but think Duncan – who has had such a long and productive career – would rank higher than 10th.

What gives?

Here are the 10 players with the most rebounds in NBA history?



If you notice, that list – with the exception of Kevin Garnett – is skewed toward players whose careers occurred quite some time ago. That’s not a coincidence.

Teams used to miss a lot more often, creating more rebounding opportunities.


And why did they miss more often?

For one, they didn’t shoot as well:


They also used to play faster, which means more shots, which means more misses, which means more rebounds. (Pace not available until the 1973-74 season.)


So why doesn’t Duncan rank higher? He didn’t have as many opportunities to grab rebounds as his predecessors.

Here’s another look at that top 10, with each player’s rebound percentage – the percentage of possible rebounds he grabbed while on the floor (Rebounding percentage wasn’t available for 1972-73 and prior, including all of Bill Russell’s career.)


So, no, Duncan doesn’t rank any higher than No. 10 in total rebounds. But in terms of his quality as a rebounder, I’d rate him a little higher.