In 2014, the Indiana Pacers signed a 27-year-old 6-foot-10 shooting specialist from Europe named Damjan Rudez. Rudez played three seasons in the NBA, one each with the Pacers, Timberwolves and Magic. In 146 games, he mostly did what he was brought stateside to do. Rudez made 37% of his 3-pointers while attempting more than six triples per 36 minutes.
He also grabbed ridiculously few rebounds.
After finishing his career in Europe, the 35-year-old Rudez has retired, securing his legacy as the worst tall rebounder in NBA history.
Time to retire from the game that gave me everything. I want to thank from the bottom of my heart to everyone who were a part of this long and beautiful journey with me.
— Damjan Rudež (@Damjan_Rudez) November 11, 2021
Despite being 6-foot-10, Rudez grabbed just an estimated 3.1% of available rebounds while on the floor. Everyone else taller than 6-foot-3 has had a higher total rebounding percentage.*
Here are the lowest total rebounding percentages among players taller than even 6-foot-7:*
*Since 1970-71, as far back as Basketball-Reference records go. Minimum: 50 games.
The next-worst rebounder as tall as Rudez, former Knicks forward Steve Novak, grabbed nearly twice as many available rebounds.
Some of Rudez’s poor rebounding numbers were probably due to role. Coaches, to varying degrees, instruct players to get back on defense rather than chase offensive rebounds. Rudez also spent considerable time on the perimeter, putting him out of position to hit the offensive glass.
But teams never want to cede defensive rebounds. And Rudez’s defensive rebounding was just as bad.
Here are the lowest defensive rebounding percentages among players taller than even 6-foot-7:*
*Since 1973-74, as far back as Basketball-Reference records go. Minimum: 50 games.
Rudez, a native Croatian, did well to make the NBA. He even became a serviceable role player for a short time in the world’s best basketball league.
But his allergy to rebounds made the deepest imprint.