I never thought rebounding was defense.
I thought rebounding was rebounding. Rebounding was what you had to do to get from defense to offense — kind of like a task or obligation or responsibility. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s the way I thought of it. And, yeah, I thought everyone pretty much thought that, too.
Until Don Nelson told me about 10 years ago he thought rebounding was absolutely part of defense — that it was the final step, the culmination of the process of getting a stop.
I never thought rebounding was part of a player’s defensive resume or a team’s defensive resume. Nelson disagreed. At the time he said rebounding was the last action of a successful defensive possession.
And that it most definitely was part defense — because if you didn’t get the rebound, the other team got another crack at scoring and it inevitably made your team worse defensively. To this day, I’m not sure I agree with that. But what I do know is there are plenty of people who think like Nelson.
Point is, if you think like Don Nelson, that rebounding is a part of defense, then Russell Westbrook has to be the MVP, right? Why? Because that makes Westbrook a better defender than Harden. Both are have had tremendous offensive seasons, no doubt. But under this scenario, Westbrook becomes the better defender — (10.7 rebounds to 6.9 rebounds) — and that’s what could or should be the deciding factor.
If I had an MVP vote, I’d pick Harden as No. 1 just one sliver above Westbrook. That’s the way I have it. But if you’re telling me that you think rebounding is part of defense then that sliver turns in favor of Westbrook. It has to, right?
I gotta believe Nelson would agree.