I think Kyrie Irving's New Year's resolution was to grab more rebounds, because since New Year's Eve, he's been an absolute beast on the boards.
The point guard has grabbed at least six rebounds in each of the Boston Celtics' last six games, and before this time, he hadn't grabbed six boards in a game all season! In this streak of his, he's averaging a mighty 7.5 rebounds per contest, which isn't too shabby for a guy who hasn't averaged above 3.7 rebounds in a season for his entire career.
12/31 vs. Brooklyn Nets: 8 rebounds
1/3 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: 9 rebounds
1/5 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: 9 rebounds
1/6 vs. Brooklyn Nets: 6 rebounds
1/11 vs. Philadelphia 76ers: 6 rebounds
1/16 vs. New Orleans Pelicans: 7 rebounds
In his first few years in the league Kyrie was an impressive rebounder for a guard. He averaged 3.7 boards per game in his first two seasons. After that, the numbers slowly slipped, and oddly enough, they really began to drop when LeBron James joined the Cavaliers. In the three years that LeBron and Kyrie were teammates, Kyrie grabbed only 3.1 rebounds per game.
Now, in his first season with the Celtics, those stats have risen back to where they were in his younger years. He's currently getting 3.6 boards per game, and if he keeps this production up, then he'll undoubtedly have the best rebounding season of his career.
In his entire tenure in this league, all six and a half seasons, Irving has only grabbed more than six rebounds in a game 24 times! Four of those twenty-four greater-than-six-grabs-games have come within the past three weeks, meaning that in the new year, he's doing the most consistent rebounding that he's ever done.
Hopefully, we'll see Kyrie get a double-digit rebound game this season, because he's only done that twice in his career, each time being ten boards.
The question is: why male models?
Just kidding. They question is: why now?
Well, the obvious answer is the mastermind behind the clipboard: Brad Stevens, but we can get more specific than that.
Since Brad arrived on the scene in 2013, the Celtics have been swapping out stretch-bigs from season to season. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko. Before that it was Jared Sullinger. The Cs have been testing-out deep-shooting bigs for years.
Last season, Danny Ainge hit the jackpot when he signed one of the best stretch big-men in the league: Al Horford. The Celtics had finally obtained a legitimate center who would be able to stand on the perimeter, and consistently draw the opponents' bigs out of the key; a real threat who needed to be tightly covered. The post being open and the larger men being outside of the key allowed for the smaller guys to crash and grab the lesser contested boards. Avery Bradley thrived in this role last season, and averaged 6.1 rebounds per game.
Plus, the team's top scorer last season, Isaiah Thomas, literally needed the paint to be open for him to sneak in and complete those Jar Jar Binks force-jump layups that we were so accustomed to seeing. If any sign of life was to be in the key last year, then Isaiah wouldn't have been able to score so easily.
Fans got on Al's case because, as the dumbos said, "He's a max center! He should be getting at least ten rebounds per game!!!!" Well, if Brad Stevens treated Horford like a conventional center and stuck his ass under the hoop all game, then he surely would have, but that's not the system that Brad ran, and because of this, Horford's rebounding numbers took a hit, and some of the guards were able to pick up those grabs.
I think that the same can be said this season, but to a lesser extent. With IT being gone, the need to spread the floor has lessened. The deserving All-Star of Al Horford, however, is still on the squad, and you know that Brad is going to utilize his strengths with or without the five-foot-niner on the team. Even still, we've seen a smaller player thrive on the glass this season: Jaylen Brown clocks in at number two on the team in rebounds, only behind Horford, with 5.6 per game.
To boot, Horford is one of the better defenders in the league, and has just been straight-up keeping centers out of the paint on the defensive end, or contesting their shots so that they're unable to grab their misses. This allows the guards, like Kyrie, to clean up the trash.
So I guess the real answer is Al Horford being in Brad Stevens' system. We'll give both of them the credit for the team's rebound-grabbing guards.
That's my theory anyways. And as I say, when in doubt, Brad Stevens is the answer. The Answer...that's actually not a bad nickname for the Cs' coach.
The Celtics return to the floor tomorrow night when they'll take on the Philadelphia 76ers in a rematch of the London game. I, myself, am on recap duty, so you'll be able to find me ass-naked on my couch with a six pack on ice. Nice little image to ruin your Wednesday.