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

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 30: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs grabs a rebound against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on December 30, 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE/Getty Images

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.