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Rebounds or Turnovers? Which is the More Important Stat in Basketball?

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A few years back University of Wisconsin led the country in fewest turnovers per game and it was no surprise to find them as one of the top 25 teams in the country. Meanwhile, Michigan St. is known for their rebounding prowess and is consistently one of the top 25 teams in the nation. While they both shared comparable records that year each is known for being great in certain aspects of the game. It got me wondering what is more important, protecting the ball or being able to rebound?

When studying this I looked at it from the basic concepts of basketball. Basketball is about getting a lot of good shots at the basket. The more good shots you get at the basket, the more points you will score. If you score more points you'll win the game. Turnovers take away possessions in a game while rebounds give you possessions. Based on that alone turnovers seem more important. If my team doesn't turn the ball over then they will get more shots at the basket. This is a battle of percentages and if my team shoots well enough then I'll win the game.

However, rebounding has its own place in the game. A good rebounding team limits the amount of possessions the other team gets. If team A misses 30 shots and team B gets the rebounds on those misses then that limits the amount of extra attempts to score. To be more specific… rebounding isn't the key but rather limiting a team's offensive rebounding is the key. If they miss a shot it is crucial that they don't get more shots at the basket. Some teams are relentless and send 2-3 guys to the offensive glass because they know how important 2nd chance points are.

When I compare the two directly in a game I look at turnover margin and rebounding margin. I want to know how many rebounds I have compared to the other team and how many turnovers I have compared to the other team. If I have better margins in both areas I will win the game. Teams can still lose if the other team shoots an incredible percentage but typically the team that wins the turnover battle and rebounding battle will win the game.

The one stat that can outshine both is shooting percentage. If you are playing a team that is just making a ton of shots then they are going to be tough to beat. You will see teams shoot great percentages and offset a large amount of turnovers. However to play the best basketball you can then you should really teach your players to value each possession.

While they aren't the most important stats they are two stats that go a long way toward determining the winner of each game.

What are your thoughts?

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