Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez is six offensive rebounds away from tying a single-season franchise record held by Chris Dudley (1994-1995) and Kermit Washington (1979-1980). The former Trail Blazers share the offensive rebounding record with 325 apiece, though Washington accomplished the feat in 80 games to Dudley’s 82. With one game remaining in the 2013-2014 regular season, and 81 games under his belt, Lopez sits at 319, within striking distance of the franchise record.
Six offensive rebounds in one game is certainly a steep order, but one that Lopez is capable of filling. He has hauled in six or more offensive boards 18 times this season already, with a season-high of nine (which he has reached on four separate occasions). The Trail Blazers host the Clippers tomorrow and, wouldn’t you know it, last time they faced off Lopez grabbed six offensive rebounds. With the effort Lopez has put forth this year, I’m rooting for him to grab at least six more. He’s earned his spot on the Trail Blazers leader board.
On the league-wide leader board, Lopez’s offensive rebound total is third in the NBA for the 2013-2014 season; way ahead of Joakim Noah (281) and just behind DeAndre Jordan (325). There is no way anyone is catching Andre Drummond (432), but there’s a reason we call him ‘Baby Shaq.’ Lopez has changed his game so much in Portland that a reasonable case could be made for the Most Improved Player award.
Actually, that’s a big part of why his rebounding is so impressive. Before this season, he was considered to be soft on the boards; one of the biggest concerns I had with acquiring him. Since last year, he has brought his average up to 8.5 total rebounds per game from 5.6 in New Orleans (3.9 on the offensive glass compared to 2.8). With the proper minutes in the proper system, Lopez has become an ideal 7-footer (within reason).
Even if he doesn’t hit the 325 mark, I’m still rather proud of him. We had no right to expect this dramatic improvement on the glass and it is one of the biggest reasons for Portland’s success. He’ll have his work cut out for him tomorrow night as he attempts to box out the league rebounding leader (the aforementioned Jordan), but if there is anything Lopez has taught me, it’s not to underestimate him.