As we approach the midway point of the NBA season, Kevin Love is enjoying his best season as a professional, with a WARP of 9.1 and a Win Percentage (Win%) of .703 percent. Last year, he had a WARP of 8.3 and a Win% of .658. While an increase in minutes is allowing Love to show off his game (37 minutes per game versus 28.6 minutes per game last year), Love's superb play on the glass is the main reason why people are finally starting to take notice of his talent.
When it comes to grabbing rebounds, Love is among the best in the NBA. At this point in time, when you think of rebounding, you instantly think of Kevin Love. Love is currently third in the NBA in rebounding percentage (TR%), grabbing 23.7 percent of all available rebounds. Only specialists Reggie Evans and Marcus Camby have been better.
In addition to being third in rebounding percentage, Love is third in defensive rebounding percentage (DR%), grabbing 33.5 percent of all available defensive rebounds while he is playing. When it comes to grabbing defensive rebounds, it is all about body position for Love, who is able to read the ball's trajectory very well, determine which way it is going to be coming off the rim, and then get his body in position to grab the rebound:
In this clip, LaMarcus Aldridge decides to go up for a hook shot as Love and Camby work under the basket for the rebound. As the shot goes up, Love recognizes that the shot is going to be short, and with Camby getting caught under the basket, Love is able to keep Camby under the basket and quickly grab the rebound as the ball comes off the rim. Love is able to read the ball as the shot goes up and see that the shot is short, which allows him to get an advantage on Camby in this particular rebounding situation.
In this clip, we are able to again see Love's understanding of where the basketball is going to come off the rim and to use that understanding to secure a rebound. In this instance, the shot is a three-pointer that goes up from the wing. Love knows that these type of shots tend to come off the rim on the opposite side, so he gets his body in position, and when the shot misses the rim completely, the ball falls right into his hands. This might look like a lucky rebound, but Love makes his own luck by getting his body in the right position.
In addition to body position, Love's willingness to box out, getting in between his man and the potential rebound instead of running straight in for the rebound, is another reason why he is able to grab rebound after rebound on the defensive end:
In this clip, as Russell Westbrook goes up for the shot, instead of heading straight to the rim (which is something that you tend see from NBA players), Love gets in between himself and Jeff Green. Love is not the most athletic guy, so he can't rely on just his jumping ability to get rebounds. This is why he has to box out and why he has to position his body in between the rim and the man he is covering (in this case Green). Because of that boxing out and body position, Love gets a lot of balls that come right to him where he doesn't have to rely on out-jumping opponents.
This clip is a perfect example of Love's willingness to box out. In transition, the Knicks get up a shot. Love is getting himself in position as Amar'e Stoudemire is barreling down on him, looking to crash the boards. If Love doesn't box out here and instead goes straight to the basketball and where he thinks it is going to land, Stoudemire is going to sky over Love and grab the offensive rebound over him. Instead, Love backs into position and gets his body in front of Stoudemire, slowing him down enough and then allowing him to grab the rebound.
Reading the ball off of the rim and body position shows everyone just how smart of a rebounder Love is. Love's savvy is always seems to be on display when he is grabbing rebounds:
As Channing Frye's shot goes up, Love and Robin Lopez are both in position to grab the rebound. Love understands that Lopez has the height advantage on him and that he will use that height to grab the ball, so instead of trying to grab the ball off of the rim initially, he taps it off the glass a second time, away from Lopez and he is able to secure the rebound.
Love isn't just a player who can grab a defensive rebound, as he also one of the top offensive rebounders in the league, posting defensive rebounding percentage (DR%) of 13.9 percent. While boxing out is the key to Love's rebounding on the defensive end, he is able to use the fact that most players don't box out to his advantage when crashing the offensive boards. Whenever one of his teammates takes a shot, Love seems to eat up the space given up by the opponent and use that to get his hands on the offensive rebound.
In this clip, as the shot goes up, Dante Cunningham has Love on his back. As the ball comes off of the rebound Love and Cunningham are shoulder to shoulder. Love has gone from a weak position with his defender between him and the rim to an even position. Once Love is able to get to an even position, he is able to use his ability to read the ball of the rim to secure the offensive rebound and get the putback.
Here, Nenad Krstic actually gets a pretty solid initial box out on Love. However, because Love continues to try and eat up space when crashing the offensive glass, the second that Krstic gives up his box out (which he does way too early), Love is again able to go from a weak position (on Krstic's back) to an even position (Love and Krstic going shoulder to shoulder), again allowing him to use his ability to read the ball of the rim to get the rebound.
Finally, Love is able to use his smarts and savvy on the offensive end as well as the defensive end:
Here, Love is getting face guarded by Carlos Boozer as the ball goes up. Love has one arm "occupied" by Boozer, meaning that he is unable to grab the rebound initially. So instead of giving up, Love is able to tap the ball off the glass, get his arm free, and grab the offensive rebound.
Watching Love rebound is really a lot of fun because he's not the tallest or most athletic guy, meaning he needs to read the ball off the rim, use body position, and other little tricks like tapping the ball to himself off of the backboard to grab rebounds. The combination of these factors allow Love to grab more than 30 percent of all available rebounds while he is on the court.