Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Minnesota’s Kevin Love have combined to win the last four NBA rebounding titles, and this season has been no different. Howard leads the league in rebounding, averaging 15.5 per game. Love is second, averaging 13.9 per game.
What’s interesting isn’t that they’re great rebounders.
What’s interesting is how they rebound. They go about it in different ways, and their contrast is something to watch tonight.
And, make no mistake, Howard does admire Love. In the past, Howard has called Love “very impressive” and “unbelievable.”
“He’s a textbook rebounder,” Howard said before the Magic last faced the Timberwolves, on Jan. 15, 2011. “He boxes out, and he uses his body, which is what you’re supposed to do on rebounds. I’ve never been a rebounder like that. I just try to go get rebounds.”
Howard won the rebounding title for three consecutive seasons — in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 — before Love wrested the title from him last season. Last season, Love finished with 15.2 per game, while Howard had 14.1 per game.
What some people don’t realize is that Howard actually is closer to 6 feet 10 than his listed height of 6-11. Love is listed at 6-10.
“Dwight’s really using his quickness and his jumping ability and reacts very quickly to the ball,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said last season. “He can go up over the rim and grab it in crowds.
“Kevin Love is using his body a lot more. He really does a great job of, especially on the offensive boards, wedging defenders under the basket and using his strength to push people out of the way to gain position to get the ball. I think what they have in common is they both go after the ball all the time, and I think that’s the first thing you want as a rebounder. They do go after it in very different ways, because they have different bodies and different abilities, but they both get the job done.”
Howard grabbed 25 boards in two games against the Timberwolves last season.
Love had 24 rebounds in those two matchups.
Orlando won both games.
“He’s a different type of rebounder than I am,” Howard said. “We joke sometimes, but he’s not a high-flyer. I don’t think he can jump over a phone book. But he uses his body very well, and that’s something you can learn from somebody like him: using your legs and your body to wedge guys under and get easy rebounds. He might not look like he’s strong, or anything like that, but he’s pretty strong down there. He’s tough. I like him a lot.”