How the Warriors eliminated Tristan Thompson’s Rebounding

One of the perceived worries the Golden State Warriors had heading into the finals was how they were going rebound against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson had been a beast on the offensive glass in the playoffs and was a key figure in last year’s finals. This time in the rubber match, the Warriors have all but eliminated his effectiveness in these finals and have led to them dominating the Cavs in these finals.

Thru the first three rounds of the playoffs, Thompson was a beast on the glass averaging 4.2 offensive rebounds and he killed the Boston Celtics by battling for extra possessions for the Cavs. In the plays below, the Celtics consistently did not put a body on Thompson as the shots went up and he made them pay every time.

Last year in the finals Thompson showed why he was worth his five-year $82 million dollar contract. In the finals alone he had a total of 27 offensive rebounds, the next closest player had 17. He also led all players who played more than 100 minutes in that series in Offensive Rebound Percentage (Offensive rebound percentage is an estimate of the percentage of available offensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor) at 13.6%.

It is no surprise that the Warriors have learned from last year’s finals and have focused on putting a body on Thompson whenever they can. He has gone from averaging 4.2 offensive rebounds to 2.0 in the finals. This concerted effort by the Warriors has paid dividends. In most cases, the players who are boxing out on Thompson are not even the ones getting the rebounds. Case in point, Zaza Pachulia averaged 4.3 rebounds per game but his number has dropped to 2.7 in the finals. This is due to the added attention he is giving to Thompson every time a shot goes up. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant have kicked up their effort on gathering the rebounds while Pachulia wrestles with Thompson.

The plays from game 3 are the exact opposite of the previous examples, every time a shot goes up Thompson is often greeted by at least one Warrior if not two as they keep him off the boards while they let their teammates get the ball.

The Warriors are on the brink of winning their second championship in three years, and while doing this they have played Thompson off the court. His best skill is rebounding but the Warriors have clearly put a focus on putting a body or two on him while their teammates are gathering the loose balls. This emphasis on boxing out Thompson has turned their disadvantage from last year’s finals to an advantage in this year’s finals.

NBA Notes:

  • Lakers’ Draft choices – The Lakers are in a great spot to really cleanup in this year’s draft. Picking in the second spot in the draft, they can potentially draft UCLA Star Lonzo Ball but there have been plenty of conflicting reports on how interested they are. If they are in interested it is an easy decision but if they are not they should approach teams like the Phoenix Suns who are drafting fourth or the Sacramento Kings who own the fifth and tenth picks in this year’s draft to see if they can acquire a few assets while moving down if they are not that high on Ball.

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