Luis Scola, Rebounding Menace


Luis Scola has been a rebounding fool lately. Maybe it was a jolt he got from the holiday season, maybe it has been extra effort or maybe it has just been a mixture of serendipity aligning with his natural abilities and a comfortability playing on a new team.

Regardless, ever since Christmas time, the Argentine has dominated the glass.

In his past 8 games, Scola has grabbed a stunning 15.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. For reference, Andre Drummond currently leads the league with 13.9 rebounds per 36 (among players with at least 500 minutes played).

In these 8 games, Scola has also posted a ridiculous defensive rebounding percentage of 38.4%. For those unfamiliar with that stat, it means he is hauling in nearly 40% of the defensive rebounds available when he has been on the court. Which is an insane figure, and one no player has reached over the course of a full season, according to Basketball-Reference.

Obviously this isn’t sustainable, but just look at his per-game production since December 23.

There isn’t a double-digit rebound game in the mix, astute readers might note. But there is also only one game in eight where Scola totaled even 20 minutes. Six out of eight times, he has grabbed 7 or more boards in under 20 minutes. That’s fantastic production in little time.

While this recent stretch has been particularly impressive, it isn’t entirely new; Scola has been doing serious boardwork all year.

He leads the team in defensive rebounding percentage, which has been huge since Roy Hibbert’s defensive rebounding so far this year is the worst it has been, percentage-wise, since 2009-10, and Ian Mahinmi’s is having the worst rebounding year of his career. Scola is picking up some slack.

Moreover, Scola has not only been the best defensive rebounder on this year’s team; he has been one of the best the franchise has since in the past decade. Only seven Pacers have posted a defensive rebounding percentage over 20.0% since 2004-05: Jeff Foster (6 times), Troy Murphy (3), Jermaine O’Neal (3), Roy Hibbert (2), Dale Davis (1), Scott Pollard (1) and, now, Scola.

Scola’s current season-long mark of 24.4% ranks sixth best in the past 10 years (among players who have played at least 500 minutes).

Along with the Pacers other bigs and wings like Paul George and Lance Stephenson rebounding well from the perimeter, Scola is helping to ensure that Indiana is one of the league’s best defensive rebounding teams. Currently they rank second in the NBA, per Basketball-Reference, trailing the Golden State Warriors by just a hair.

In the win/loss column, Indiana is so dominant because of its defense, and as any JV coach can tell you, a defensive possession isn’t over until you get the ball back. So this rebounding prowess is undeniably one of the large factors why the Pacers’ defense is historically good.

And though he may not be playing big minutes or have a reputation as a defensive presence, no player on the Pacers is cleaning the glass like Luis Scola. Not a bad bonus coming from a guy who was brought in to hit jumpers and provide some scoring off the bench.