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Top 10 rebounders in NBA history

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain
ANALYST
Modified 26 Mar 2021
Feature

Dominant rebounders have graced the NBA ever since the league's first season in 1946-47, when it was known as the Basketball Association of America. In every decade of the NBA since then, there have been quality rebounders who have dominated the paint for their teams, both defensively and offensively.

Ten Players with the most rebounds in NBA history

In this piece, we'll have a look at the ten best rebounders in NBA history in terms of stats and find out how impressively they controlled the glass.

If you're a diehard NBA fan, you will naturally think about Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the greatest rebounders in league history. You could also have Dennis Rodman in high regard for his rebounding prowess in the late 1980s and 1990s.

So, without further ado, let's start.


#10 Nate Thurmond - 14,464 rebounds

Nate Thurmond
Nate Thurmond

Another NBA legend born in Akron, Ohio (the same as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Gus Johnson), Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond, was a phenomenal rebounder who had a tremendous career in the competition.

Thurmond played in 964 games in his 14-year NBA career, averaging 15 points and as many rebounds per game. He played for the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers.

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His average of rebounds per game is the fifth-best in NBA history.


#9 Kevin Garnett - 14,662 rebounds

Kevin Garnett grabbing a rebound for the 2013 Boston Celtics.
Kevin Garnett grabbing a rebound for the 2013 Boston Celtics.

Kevin Garnett is one of the greatest power forwards to have played in the NBA. He was one of the most versatile players during his time in the league. He is one of the NBA legends who could play all five positions, and he was certainly a solid rebounder.

Garnett grabbed 14,662 rebounds in his NBA career in 1462 games, leading the league in rebounding four times (doing so consecutively between 2003-04 and 2006-07).

He averaged ten rebounds per game in his 21-year career and is one of five players in league history to win the NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year award in his career.


#8 Robert Parish - 14,715 rebounds

Robert Parish during his successful tenure with the Boston Celtics
Robert Parish during his successful tenure with the Boston Celtics
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'The Chief' Robert Parish was a solid center in his NBA career, and his longevity enabled him to put up some impressive numbers.

A four-time NBA champion and a member of one of the most successful 'Big Threes' in league history, Parish also played the most NBA games ever, with 1611 in 21 seasons.

Parish was a nine-time All-Star and earned two All-NBA selections in his career. He averaged only nine rebounds per game in his regular-season career, but his longevity helped him grab the eighth-most rebounds in league history.


#7 Karl Malone - 14,968 rebounds

Karl Malone
Karl Malone

A two-time NBA MVP, 14-time All-Star and 14-time All-NBA, Karl Malone certainly deserves a spot among the league's greatest players.

The power forward, who never won the NBA title despite multiple visits to the Finals, grabbed the seventh-most rebounds (14968) in league history.

In his 19-year NBA career, Malone played 1476 games for the Utah Jazz and LA Lakers and averaged 10.1 rebounds per game. He had ten seasons where he averaged over ten boards a game, with a career-high 12 coming in the 1987-88 campaign.


#6 Tim Duncan - 15,091 rebounds

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Tim Duncan during the 2007 NBA Finals
Tim Duncan during the 2007 NBA Finals

The greatest power forward in NBA history, Tim Duncan, was a dominant force in the paint. He completed all his big men duties for the San Antonio Spurs between 1997 and 2016.

Duncan led the Spurs to five NBA championships in his illustrious career, and a solid rebounding game was part of his arsenal. He grabbed 15,091 rebounds in his legendary NBA career and averaged 10.8 rebounds per game.


#5 Moses Malone - 16,212 rebounds

Moses Malone
Moses Malone

If this ranking considered ABA stats, too, Moses Malone would have ranked third. Since it is NBA only, the three-time NBA MVP comes fifth in this list.

Malone had an impressive NBA career and is widely regarded as one of the greatest big men in league history. Not only did he win three NBA MVP awards, but he is also the only player in NBA history to win the award in consecutive years with two different franchises.

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An NBA champion in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers, Malone led the league six times in rebounding and averaged 12.3 boards in his career. He was impressive on the offensive glass (five per game in his career) as well.


#4 Elvin Hayes - 16,279 rebounds

Elvin Hayes
Elvin Hayes

Elvin Hayes was another great big man who had his prime during the 1970s. Hayes won the NBA championship with the Washington Bullets in 1978 and arguably deserved the Finals MVP award ahead of his teammate Wes Unseld that year.

Nevertheless, Hayes was a great rebounder, and he led the league in rebounding twice, registering impressive averages of 16.9 and 18.1 in the 1969-70 and 1973-74 seasons, respectively.

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A Hall of Famer, Hayes went to 12 All-Star games and earned six All-NBA selections.


#3 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 17,440 rebounds

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the LA Lakers
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the LA Lakers

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had an incredible basketball career, from high school to the NBA. Abdul-Jabbar was mostly known for his scoring and holds the all-time record of six MVP awards; he has also scored the most points in NBA history.

He did his job to perfection on the basketball court. The six-time NBA champion dominated the glass, protected the rim and was an efficient defender in his best days. He grabbed the third-most rebounds in league history and led the league once in boards.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played in 1560 games from 1969 to 1989, averaging 24.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He went to a record 19 All-Star games and earned 15 All-NBA selections and 11 All-Defense selections.


#2 Bill Russell - 21,620 rebounds

Bill Russell and Red Auerbach
Bill Russell and Red Auerbach
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We have entered an incredible era in the NBA, where most statistics look insignificant. But Bill Russell was probably the league's first premier big man in terms of turning defense into an art and ultimately winning the basketball.

Along the way, Russell tallied impressive rebounding numbers, which seem impossible in today's NBA. The 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics grabbed 21,620 rebounds in 963 games and averaged 22.5 points per game (second-highest in league history) in his storied career.

Russell was never a huge scorer (he averaged 15.1 points per game in his career). But he played winning basketball, which helped him earn five MVP awards and paved the way for the Celtics winning 11 titles during his 13-season career.


#1 Wilt Chamberlain - 23,924 rebounds

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain

Whether you are a long-time NBA fan or just joined the fan base recently, you must know that Wilt Chamberlain's name is usually at the top of most statistical records in NBA history.

Chamberlain scored at an unbelievable rate during his greatest year, grabbing rebounds like no other player we have ever seen in the league.

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He finished with more rebounds than his long-time rival, Bill Russell, and also averaged more rebounds (22.9) per game than the Boston Celtics legend.

He averaged 30 points and 22.9 rebounds per game in his career, which looks simply impossible to match today. Chamberlain also won two NBA championships in his storied career, four regular-season MVPs and a Finals MVP award.

Chamberlain also holds the record for the most rebounds (55) in a single game.


Also Read: NBA Twitter explodes as Orlando Magic complete fire-sale by trading Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier | NBA Trade Deadline 2021.

Published 26 Mar 2021, 03:30 IST
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