What Kind Of Shots Produce The Most Offensive Rebounds?

I am all about challenging convention when it comes to basketball and an article I found the other day made me think twice about a coaching cliché that’s as old as basketball itself.

That cliché? The longer the shot, the longer the rebound.

It makes sense on first glance as a deeper shot means more arc and more arc should make for a more emphatic bounce when the shot hits the rim. Many coaches who love launching as many threes as possible point to this adage to support their strategy, maintaining that shooting more threes will result in more offensive rebounds.

I was personally a believer in this old nugget of wisdom until I happened upon a paper by Jeremy Brooks of the Northwestern Analytics Group. I’ll spare you the exact details of his findings but long story short, he showed that there was no correlation to longer shots making for longer rebounds. In fact, the higher the average amount of threes shot the shorter the average rebound went from the rim. This was all data from the NBA, but it was intriguing to me and it made me look for more and more sources and studies. While everything I found was using NBA data they all came to the same conclusion and that was that more threes taken didn’t equal more offensive rebounds.

This was absolutely fascinating to me because, as I mentioned, “long shots equal long rebounds” has been mentioned by a whole lot of coaches. It was also fascinating to me because I figured that it had major implications for the Gators.

Here’s why I think the relationship between long shots (threes, obviously) and offensive rebounds matters for Florida. First, the Gators are shooting more and more threes every single year. Here are the percentages of field goal attempts from threes so far in the Mike White era.

2016: 37%
2017: 36.6%
2018: 40.3%
2019: 43.3%

Secondly, we know offensive rebounding has become an important aspect of the game for the Gators. With the exception of 2018 (where they had to play tiny with Egor Koulechov at the 4) Mike White’s teams have been in the upper tier of the country when it comes to offensive rebounding and it seemed like even more of a focus last year with Kevarrius Hayes and Keyontae Johnson crashing the glass. They weren’t an efficient offensive team last year and they needed the extra possessions generated by offensive rebounds and second chance points were of utmost importance.

If the Gators want to continue to make offensive rebounding a key factor in their game plan they’ll want to know what shots give them the best opportunity to do so. Is it really shooting threes like years of perception would say? I had to take a dive into it.

3-Point Rate Versus Offensive Rebound Rate

To figure out how 3-point attempts correlated with offensive rebound attempts I decided to take each game from last season and calculate some key numbers for the study. First, I looked at their 3-point attempts and what percentage of their total field goal attempts were from three. Then, I looked at how many offensive rebounds they got as well as their offensive rebound rate (the percentage of Florida’s missed shots where they secured the offensive rebound). This way I could see if high 3-point shooting games resulted in high offensive rebound games or if less 3-point attempts resulted in more offensive rebounds. Normally I would just give the results of a study like this but this time I decided I’d show all my work and let you all see the process. Anyways, here is the result of few hours of work. Feel free to just skim it, I’ll contextualize the data and make some points afterwards.

Florida State
3PA: 24
3PA/FGA: 44%
OR: 9
OR Rate: 26%

Charleston Southern
3PA: 28
3PA/FGA: 50%
OR: 4
OR Rate: 13%

La Salle
3PA: 13
3PA/FGA: 24%
OR: 9
OR Rate: 38%

Oklahoma
3PA: 28
3PA/FGA: 47%
OR: 7
OR Rate: 19%

Stanford
3PA: 15
3PA/FGA: 27%
OR: 8
OR Rate: 30%

Butler
3PA: 27
3PA/FGA: 52%
OR: 12
OR Rate: 35%

North Florida
3PA: 28
3PA/FGA: 41%
OR: 15
OR Rate: 50%

West Virginia
3PA: 21
3PA/FGA: 44%
OR: 11
OR Rate: 34%

Michigan State
3PA: 24
3PA/FGA: 38%
OR: 16
OR Rate: 40%

Mercer
3PA: 33
3PA/FGA: 48%
OR: 11
OR Rate: 33%

Florida Gulf Coast
3PA: 30
3PA/FGA: 48%
OR: 12
OR Rate: 35%

Butler
3PA: 21
3PA/FGA: 38%
OR: 14
OR Rate: 54%

South Carolina
3PA: 31
3PA/FGA: 51%
OR: 15
OR Rate: 39%

Arkansas
3PA: 26
3PA/FGA: 45%
OR: 10
OR Rate: 25%

Tennessee
3PA: 32
3PA/FGA: 59%
OR: 9
OR Rate: 26%

Ole Miss
3PA: 31
3PA/FGA: 53%
OR: 12
OR Rate: 35%

Georgia
3PA: 27
3PA/FGA: 48%
OR: 13
OR Rate: 38%

Texas A&M
3PA: 37
3PA/FGA: 60%
OR: 13
OR Rate: 39%

TCU
3PA: 27
3PA/FGA: 44%
OR: 13
OR Rate: 30%

Ole Miss
3PA: 26
3PA/FGA: 41%
OR: 8
OR Rate: 25%

Kentucky
3PA: 19
3PA/FGA: 30%
OR: 12
OR Rate: 29%

Auburn
3PA: 20
3PA/FGA: 40%
OR: 6
OR Rate: 22%

Tennessee
3PA: 26
3PA/FGA: 44%
OR: 15
OR Rate: 39%

Vanderbilt
3PA: 22
3PA/FGA: 39%
OR: 14
OR Rate: 37%

Alabama
3PA: 19
3PA/FGA: 38%
OR: 5
OR Rate: 22%

LSU
3PA: 30
3PA/FGA: 46%
OR: 15
OR Rate: 43%

Missouri
3PA: 15
3PA/FGA: 35%
OR: 6
OR Rate: 24%

Vanderbilt
3PA: 19
3PA/FGA: 38%
OR: 7
OR Rate: 27%

Georgia

3PA: 21
3PA/FGA: 44%
OR: 12
OR Rate: 40%

LSU
3PA: 25
3PA/FGA: 43%
OR: 11
OR Rate: 34%

Kentucky
3PA: 18
3PA/FGA: 33%
OR: 5
OR Rate: 17%

Arkansas
3PA: 22
3PA/FGA: 40%
OR: 19
OR Rate: 56%

LSU
3PA: 28
3PA/FGA: 50%
OR: 8
OR Rate: 27%

Auburn
3PA: 15
3PA/FGA: 39%
OR: 5
OR Rate: 33%

Nevada
3PA: 18
3PA/FGA: 34%
OR: 10
OR Rate: 34%

Michigan
3PA: 26
3PA/FGA: 47%
OR: 5
OR Rate: 15%

Are you all still with me? Good. I mentioned earlier that I wanted to see if high 3-point shooting games resulted in high offensive rebounding games. To do that I first need to categorize what constitutes a high 3-point shooting game and what constitutes a high offensive rebounding game.

Florida averaged 43% of their field goal attempts from three last season. With that being the average I’ll take every game where they shot higher than that and consider it a high 3-point shooting game. That means they had 19 high 3-point shooting games.

Florida’s offensive rebound rate was 31%, so I’ll consider any game higher than that to be a high offensive rebounding game. That means they had 20 high offensive rebounding games.

Now let’s look for some correlation and see if they offensively rebounded better or worse than their average when they shot the three more often.

When Florida took more than their average amount of threes they had 11 high offensive rebounding games and 8 low offensive rebounding games. Okay, not bad.

However, when Florida took less than their average amount of threes they had 9 high offensive rebounding games and 8 low offensive rebounding games.

Interesting. As you can see there, there isn’t a major difference with that quick glance and that’s starting to support the argument that there really isn’t any difference between 3-point rate and offensive rebounding rate. Let’s look at Florida’s five best and 5 worst offensive rebounding games to see if there are any trends there.

In the Gator’s five worst offensive rebounding games they shot more threes than average in three of them and in their five best offensive rebounding games they shot more threes than average in only one of those games. This data supports the case that you actually get more offensive rebounds when you shoot less threes but it’s a small sample size and it’s not that compelling of a case.

What Shots Created Offensive Rebounds?

To get to the bottom of things and really figure out what kinds of shots produce more offensive rebounds I knew what I had to do. I needed to look at every offensive rebound the Gators got last season and see if they came from either a 2-point or 3-point shot attempt.

Here is where things really got interesting (no, I’m not showing you all my work like I did earlier in the article, this thing is already getting long).

Florida had 207 offensive rebounds off 2-point shots and 161 offensive rebounds off 3-point attempts. Now, let’s look at that in terms of offensive rebounding rate. To do that we just take the number of offensive rebounds and divide it by the number of missed field goal attempts the Gators had from that range.

2-Point Misses: 577
2-Point O-Boards: 207
Offense Rebound Rate: 35.8%

3-Point Misses: 581
3-Point O-Boards: 161
Offensive Rebound Rate: 27.7%

Finally, we’ve got some numbers that are really supporting one side of the argument. Looking at these numbers it’s clear that the Gators are much more likely to get an offensive rebound off a missed 2-point shot than a 3-point shot and it’s by a fairly considerable margin. At 35.8% on 2-point offensive rebounding the Gators are rebounding like the 14th best team in the country and at 27.7% on 3-point offensive rebounding they’re rebounding like the 200th best team.

Why is this? After watching every Gator offensive rebound I’ll give you some anecdotal evidence. One 2-point attempts the defense is often scrambling. Think of an average layup attempt. You’ve got the primary defender guarding the ball and usually a big man coming to try to block the shot. That means when the layup gets put up usually two defenders are on the ball and that gives the offensive rebounding team a numbers advantage. Plus, the big that’s rotating over to block a shot is usually the team’s best defensive rebounder and he’s now out of position.

For 3-point attempts the defense is usually more set up with big men guarding near the hoop putting them in strong defensive rebounding position. It was tougher for players like Kevarrius Hayes and Keyontae Johnson to find rebounding room like they did on 2-point attempts and they were therefore less able to haul in offensive rebounds.

One note I’ll give, and I don’t have the numbers (YET, this may be the start of a new article… or a long study if a team ever hires me on staff;) we’ll see). Corner threes are much more likely to generate offensive rebounds than straight on threes or threes from either 45. Corner threes almost always ended up with misses on the weak side of the floor with a little more range while more straight-on threes from above the break made for shorter rebounds right by the rim. Some day I’ll have the numbers to back up what I was seeing on film but for now I hope the Gators structure their 3-point attack around shots from the corners which are also the higher percentage locations.

Final Thoughts

Florida was a team that struggled to get shots near the rim and seeing the offensive rebounding data makes it that much more clear that getting shots at the rim needs to be a focus. Shots at the rim are obviously high percentage looks and the data shows that even if you miss the shot you’ve got a better chance on the rebound than a jump shot. Coach White and his staff have shown that crashing the boards and getting second chance opportunities is a focus and if they want to maximize their chance at offensive rebounds I think they need to look towards getting shots at the rim. Increasing the number of corner threes instead of deeper threes from more straight on will also help but it’s really shots at the rim that will make for more o-boards. Scoring on the interior has been something Coach White has tried to instill in his players and I think that work could pay off this year and we could see the fruits of his labor with more easy layups and offensive rebounds on the inside.

While the Gators are losing a great offensive rebounder in Kevarrius Hayes (13.1% offensive rebound rate, 63rd in the country) they’re gaining an even better one in Kerry Blackshear Jr. (13.7% offensive rebound rate, 39th in the country) and they should be an even better offensive rebounding team with Keyontae Johnson a year older and a frontcourt that’s actually healthy.

There are lots of old basketball beliefs that have went the way of the dinosaur and I think the thought that more long 3-point shots make for more offensive rebounds is one that should go the same direction. All the studies I found from NBA data showed that longer shots don’t make for longer rebounds in that league and now that I’ve found the Gators get far more offensive rebounds off short shots than long shots I think my mind is made up.

I hope you enjoyed the study, and go Gators!