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Clint Capela favored to lead NBA in rebounding in 2021-22

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September 14th, 2021

After a three year run by Andre Drummond, Clint Capela captured the rebounding title last year. You’d be forgiven for not knowing that, because leading the NBA in rebounds isn’t glamorous. It’s not equivalent to winning the scoring title, nor even the recipient of as much praise as being the annual assist leader. But rebounds remain fundamental to all winning basketball teams, and trite as it may be, a defensive possession doesn’t end until someone can corral the ball. And an effective offensive rebounder can demoralize an opposing team as much or more than any scoring possession.

So let’s look ahead to the 2021-22 rebounding title favorites and see where the best value lies.

2021-22 NBA Leading Rebounder Odds

PlayerOdds
Clint Capela
+125
Rudy Gobert
+225
Domantas Sabonis
+650
Robert Williams
+700
Jonas Valanciunas
+1000

WHAT MAKES CAPELA THE FAVORITE?

Some might be surprised to see Clint Capela as the favorite despite his victory last season. But long-time opponents like Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside are no longer threats to steal the crown from Capela because they aren’t playing for teams that value them enough to hand them starting roles.

Capela, meanwhile, was a borderline All-Star player last season, and averaged 14.3 boards per game on route to the rebounding title. He solidifies what would otherwise be a shaky Atlanta Hawks defense almost by himself. And he’ll have to keep up that solo act for an indeterminate amount of time this year, with backup center Onyeka Okongwu recovering from shoulder surgery at least for the beginning of the season.

Capela has been in the top tier of rebounders each of the last three seasons, and he has the most favorable team environment among the major contenders here. Save perhaps one Rudy Gobert, who we’ll get to next.

OTHER REBOUNDING TITLE CONTENDERS

Rudy Gobert (+225) is an ironman, missing only a single game last season and remains insanely productive. He was runner-up last year with 13.5 rebounds per game, the same mark as the year prior but impressively he managed it in four fewer minutes per game. It’s hard to expect Gobert to improve much on this range, nor is there reason to expect the Jazz will play him more minutes. 

If anything, after a short offseason and a featured role for France at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it’s possible Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder gives Gobert a shorter onramp to begin the year, possibly hurting his per game averages.

Third on the board is Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis at +650. Sabonis is still playing alongside Miles Turner, and their somewhat troublesome fit depresses his rebounding totals to some extent. Turner’s 6.5 rebounds wouldn’t all go to Sabonis in some alternate universe in which the two weren’t paired together, but just a fraction of them would have to to put Sabonis over the top. But with Rick Carlisle on board and the team looking to project stability, such a trade seems nowhere in sight.

Sabonis averaged 12 boards per game in 2020-21, despite a massive amount of Pacers dysfunction, and is certainly a threat to improve. But it’s hard to project the kind of increase he’d need to eclipse either Gobert or Capela.

Robert Williams incredibly has the fourth-highest odds at +700, despite never sniffing 10 rebounds per game in a prior regular season. Indeed his high water mark was 6.9 last season. But having signed a new contract worth starter money, all signs point to Williams having an increased role this year. 

His per 36 numbers have him among the league's elite on the glass, but "Time Lord" will need to prove that he has the kind of on-court durability to match his promising per-minute production. With Al Horford also returning to Boston, Williams is not guaranteed to close games if he isn’t performing. And there’s too much projection involved in betting him here.

Capela is the BEST BET

Capela has outrebounded Gobert in two out of the last three seasons and is firmly entrenched in a system that will continue to siphon him rebounding opportunities. He’s two years younger, and the Hawks will be desperately fighting for playoff positioning all year long in a way the Jazz will likely not be. Given opportunity and team situation, there’s no reason to bet Gobert over Capela with such limited additional value. Clint Capela at +125 is the best bet on the board.

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