Much like my open-mouth sleeping, there isn’t anything sexy about rebounding.
As important as the skill is, rarely do we find ourselves hanging on every box out and gasping at every defensive board, especially when we’re watching a towering seven-footer. The expectation is for most big men to help their team in this department, which is why a player has to do something pretty darn special to turn our head toward the glass.
Cue Nikola Vucevic.
The Bulls All-Star center has been among the league’s elite rebounders for the past handful of years, finishing in the top-10 in rebounds per game in each of the previous four seasons. Currently, his 11.6 rebounds a night is the 6th-best mark in the NBA, which is the exact place he finished the 2020-21 season. So while seeing the center stuff this section of the stat sheet isn’t shocking, it has reached an absurd height during the Bulls’ latest winning streak.
Vucevic has grabbed a league-high 97 rebounds since December 26th, averaging 16.2 rebounds per game over his six contests. The next closest to Vucevic is Rudy Gobert, who currently has just 79 rebounds to his name. Now, to be fair, Gobert has played one fewer game since the day after Christmas, but that doesn’t change the fact that this has been a dominant performance from the Bulls big man over the past couple of weeks.
Nikola Vucevic's last six games:
Since December 26th he leads the league in total rebounds with 97. The next closest is Rudy Gobert at … 79!
To be fair, Vooch has played one more game than Gobert, but still lol
— Elias Schuster (@Schuster_Elias) January 4, 2022
This is only the 7th time in Vucevic’s career that he’s strung together six-straight games with 12+ rebounds. Even more impressive, this is only the third time in his career he has reached 97 rebounds over the course of six games. The first two times came way back during the 2012-13 season, per Stathead.
His 20 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks on December 29th marked a season-high and his most since January 6th, 2020 with the Magic. It also came against Clint Capela, the player who currently averages the 3rd most rebounds per game and finished the 2020-21 season as the league’s top rebounder.
Considering the team’s lack of size in the frontcourt, the opportunities are plentiful for Vucevic on the glass. Still, his ability to take advantage of this opportunity and help anchor the team with his top-tier glass-crashing ability has been a relief. Chicago already ranks a disappointing 23rd in rebounding percentage, so remove what Vucevic brings to the table, and we would likely spend far more time worrying about the battle for the boards.