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Suns Reacts Survey: Is Deandre Ayton is primed for an elite rebounding season?

Suns history isn’t filled with elite rebounders. Is this a year in which Ayton changes that narrative too?

New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

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Rebounding and the Phoenix Suns. Two things that aren’t necessarily synonymous with one another.

The Suns haven’t been a franchise full of dominating big men and imposing rebounders during their 56-year history. If you were to step back and ask yourself, “Who holds the single season rebounds-per-game record in Suns history?”, who comes to mind? Charles Barkley? Amare Stoudemire? Deandre Ayton? Shawn Marion?

You’d be wrong on all accounts.

The answer is a 6’7” power forward from Creighton University who came to the Suns in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks in 1969. He would go on to be a two time All-Star, five time All-Defensive team selection, and three time NBA Champion – two with the Boston Celtics (1974, 1976) and one with the Seattle SuperSonics (1979) – before coaching for from 1980 to 2012. Give up?

It’s Paul Silas.

Paul Silas Portrait Photo by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images

Silas set the single-season record for rebounding average, and he did so in the franchise’s third season. In 1971, Papa Bear averaged 12.53 rebounds per game, and that number has held for the past 52 years in the Valley of the Sun. His 1,015 rebounds that season remains the highest single season total in franchise history as well.

When you go through the top rebounding seasons in Phoenix Suns history, it isn’t necessarily a who’s who of dominance. In fact, as you look at this list, you may be surprised to learn that current Suns center Deandre Ayton has yet to make the top 10 in franchise rebounding average in a season. He holds down slots 12 , 15, 16, and 19, but has yet to put a season together cracking the top 10.

Suns All-Time Leading Rebounders by Average

Paul Silas 1971 12.5
Neal Walk 1973 12.4
Charles Barkley 1993 12.2
Paul Silas 1972 11.9
Curtis Perry 1975 11.9
Shawn Marion 2006 11.8
Charles Barkley 1996 11.6
Shawn Marion 2005 11.3
Charles Barkley 1994 11.2
Charles Barkley 1995 11.1

Rebounding is one of the three core statistics we examine and refer to when discussing player success, and it is a fascinating statistic. There are numerous factors that go into a successful rebounder. Positioning. Energy. Drive. Instinct. Engagement. Hustle. Desire. Being on a team in which shots are missed by your team. Playing against a team that frequently misses shots. Playing in an era in which the pace of play equates to more possessions. Rebounding statistics can be much deeper than what the number is on the surface. It tells us a story about a player and their situation.

When you look at the list of highest rebounding averages per season per franchise, it isn’t surprising to learn that the Suns’ total of 12.53 set by Paul Silas in 1971 is the 25th best in the league when compared to other franchises.

Highest Rebounding Averages Per Season Per Franchise

Wilt Chamberlain GSW 1961 27.2
Bill Russell BOS 1964 24.7
Wilt Chamberlain PHI 1966 24.6
Jerry Lucas SAC 1966 21.1
Wilt Chamberlain LAL 1969 21.1
Bob Petit ATL 1961 20.3
Walt Bellany WAS 1962 19.0
Dennis Rodman DET 1992 18.7
Moses Malone HOU 1979 17.6
Dennis Rodman SAS 1994 17.3
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar MIL 1972 16.6
Dennis Rodman CHI 1997 16.1
Walt Bellany NYK 1966 16.0
Truck Robinson UTA 1978 15.7
DeAndre Jordan LAC 2018 15.2
Kevin Love MIN 2011 15.2
Dwight Howard ORL 2012 14.5
Bill Walton POR 1977 14.4
Hassan Whiteside MIA 2017 14.1
Nikola Jokic DEN 2022 13.8
DeAndre Jordan DAL 2019 13.7
Jayson Williams BKN 1998 13.6
Spencer Haywood OKC 1974 13.4
DeMarcus Cousin NOP 2018 12.9
Paul Silas PHX 1971 12.5
Jonas Valanciunas MEM 2021 12.5
Dwight Howard CHO 2018 12.5
Domantas Sabonis IND 2020 12.4
Carlos Boozer CLE 2004 11.4
Chris Bosh TOR 2010 10.8

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter, right? We just want to win and we don’t care about the statistics along the way. Yet as mentioned above, rebounding is more than just a number. It reflects personality, competitiveness, and desire.

As we prepare for the 2023-24 NBA season, and given the philosophies we expect to be instilled by new head coach Frank Vogel, it is a reasonable question to ask whether or not Deandre Ayton can crack the top 10, or perhaps set the record for rebounds per game. Vogel loves having an athletic and talented big man at the core of his defense. While we hope that this team doesn’t provide many opportunities for offensive rebounding, seeing as Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal should share the majority of the offensive load, the expectation is that an engaging Deandre Ayton on the defensive end could lead to his dominance. Part of that dominance should include his ability to negate the opposition from secondary possessions by ensuring that he secures defensive rebounds.

Deandre Ayton is coming off of a dominating rebounding performance in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament where averaged 13.8 rebound per game for the Bahamas. The front lines of Cuba, Uruguay, and Argentina aren’t as stout as they are in the NBA, but we witnessed the engagement and desire it will take for Ayton wo become an elite rebounder.

So will this happen?

That is the subject of this week’s SB Nation Suns Reacts question. Cast your vote and let us know in the comments below where you think DA will end up or if it even matters. Will he end up setting the record for most rebounds per game in a single season in Suns history? Will he crack the top 10? Will it be another 10 rebound per game average for the sixth year center?

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