[W]hat Rodman really should be known for, according to a ridiculously detailed series of blog posts that began last August and was completed last month — a month after Rodman was voted into the Hall of Fame — is being the best rebounder in NBA history and one of the league’s most valuable players ever.
Benjamin Morris, on his blog Skeptical Sports Analysis, begins his generally persuasive case by assessing Rodman in terms of his rebounding. Morris eschewed the rebounds per game stat, which is skewed in several ways. Fast-paced games have more possessions and more missed shots, creating more rebounding opportunities. That helped artificially boost the rebounding totals of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, whom Morris argues were good but not great rebounders blessed with a lot of missed shots to collect.
Instead Morris uses rebounding percentages on the offensive and defensive glass. These are estimates of what percentage of available rebounds a player collects. The average player should get 10%, since any of 10 players on the floor can grab the ball. That percentage should be a bit higher on the defensive side, because most rebounds are collected by the defensive team, and lower on the offensive side. But Rodman exceeded 10% on each side of the floor in each season of his career, usually by a wide margin. He grabbed 17.2% of available offensive rebounds and 29.6% of defensive rebounds, leading the league in the first stat seven times and the second six times. He has six of the 17 best seasons in history for offensive-rebounding percentage, and six of the 12 best for defensive-rebounding percentage. And unlike most top rebounders, one skill didn’t impede the other. Most players who are great on the defensive glass aren’t as good at corralling offensive rebounds, perhaps because they are behind their teammates in getting down the floor.