One of the more comical topics on this forum has been those that claim that Wilt would only be a 14 rpg guy in today's NBA (which I have read here MANY times.)
In Wilt's LAST season, at age 36 1/2, he LED the league with 18.6 rpg, playing 43.2 mpg, in a league in which the average NBA team grabbed 50.6 rpg. And Chamberlain easily outrebounded the other leaders that year. Nate Thurmond, arguably the 4th best rebounder of all-time, was next at 17.1 rpg. Dave Cowens was third at 16.2 rpg. Kareem was 4th at 16.1 rpg. And then Wes Unseld was fifth at 15.9 rpg.
All of which is interesting, considering that those players like Cowens, Unseld, and Kareem were either leading the league, or among the leading rebounders for most of the rest of the decade. For example, in the 75-76 season, Kareem won his only rebounding title, at 16.9 rpg, while Cowens was right behind at 16.0 rpg...in a league that averaged 47.4 rpg per team. BTW, Cowen's 72-73 season (Wilt's FINAL season) was his best year, while Kareem, who was ALWAYS WELL behind Chamberlain in rebounding, had his best season in that 75-76 season.
H2H, Chamberlain dominated ALL of those guys, as well. He almost always outrebounded Kareem, and even had games in which he killed him by a 25-8 margin. Even more interesting in that 72-73 season, was the fact that Thurmond was probably in his physical prime, and was 31 years old. And while he was nowhere near as strong as Chamberlain, he was certainly a beast at the time. And yet, when Wilt and Thurmond met in the WCF's that season, Chamberlain just CRUSHED Nate...outrebounding him by a 23.6 rpg to 17.2 margin.
In fact, in the previous round, Wilt squared off against 7-0 260 lb. Tom Boerwinkle, who had some seasons in the early 70's in which he had a higher "rebound rate" than Chamberlain. How did Boerwinkle fare against Wilt in a seven game playoff series that year? He managed to only get outrebounded by a 172-9 margin. Granted his nine rebounds came in only 30 minutes (he couldn't stay on the floor against the much more dominant Wilt), but even giving him that, he would have only grabbed about 15 rebounds had he played 48 minutes. Meanwhile, Wilt AVERAGED 24.6 rpg in that series. And, in the 71-72 playoffs, in a sweeping game four win against Boerwinkle's Bulls, Wilt yanked down 31 rebounds.
So, while a 36 year-old Chamberlain easily won the rebounding title in 72-73, he was even MORE dominant in the playoffs. In his 17 post-season games that year, in his FINAL season, he an astonishing 22.5 rpg...against Boerwinkle, who had those high "rebound rate" seasons, HOFer and GREAT rebounder Thurmond, and then against HOFer Willis Reed in the Finals. In Wilt's LAST GAME he grabbed 21 rebounds.
And just the year before, in 71-72, Wilt, as almost always, led the NBA in rebounding at 19.2 rpg, in a career low 42.3 mpg, over Unseld, who was at 17.6 rpg, and then Kareem, who was at 16.6 rpg on a career high 44.2 mpg. Wilt easily outrebounded Kareem in the playoffs, 18.8 to 17.2 rpg, and then buried the Knicks in the Finals. In the clinching game five win, and playing with BOTH wrists heavily wrapped due to severe injuries, he ripped down 29 rebounds, out of a TOTAL of 106 (and the entire Knick team had 39...a team with Jerry Lucas and Dave DeBusschere...two of the greatest rebounders ever.) Furthermore, Wilt's 19.2 rpg came on a team that had Happy Hairston, who pulled down 13.1 rpg that season. So Chamberlain was essentially losing sure rebounds to his playing partner.
Here again, Wilt, in his LAST season, and playing 43.2 mpg, and in a league that averaged 50.6 rpg, was able to get 18.6 rpg. For a comparison, Dwight Howard led the NBA in rebounding last season, at 13.2 rpg, in a league that averaged 41.7 rpg. Granted, Dwight, with his foul trouble, was only able to play 34.7 mpg, but in his finest post-season, and playing 42.1 mpg, he was only able to get 15.8 rpg. And even this year, and at a prime age of 25, and playing 37.7 mpg, he is at 14.2 rpg. Thinks about that, though. Here is Howard, at age 25, and grabbing 14 rpg in a league that averages 41.4 rpg. Meanwhile, Chamberlain, at age 36, and playing in 17 post-season games, was at 22.5 rpg...against the likes of near-prime HOFer Thurmond and HOFer Reed. So, Howard at his best in the playoffs, was able to get 15.8 rpg playing 42.1 mpg, in a league that averaged an even 42.0 rpg. Meanwhile a 36 year-old Wilt was able to average 22.5 rpg on a staggering 47.1 mpg...in a league that was only slightly higher in total rebounds per team, at 50.6 rpg. Reducing Wilt's 72-73 playoff total down to Howard's league average in his 07-08 season, Wilt would have been at 18.8 rpg. Reduce Wilt's playing time down to 42.1 mpg and Wilt would have averaged 16.8 rpg.
Of course, this was a 36 year-old Wilt. And a Chamberlain who was playing on a surgically repaired knee. 18.6 rpg in the regular season, and 22.5 rpg in 17 playoff games. Does anyone in their right mind believe that a 36 year-old Wilt was anywhere near his PRIME? How about Kareem at age 36? 7.3 rpg. How about Shaq at age 36? 8.4 rpg. How about Hakeem? 9.6 rpg. How about Motumbo? 6.4 rpg (in 16 games.) How about Ewing? 9.9 rpg. How about Gilmore? 8.5 rpg. How about Thurmond? Out of the league. How about Russell? Retired at age 34. And yet Wilt, at age 36 was LEADING the league in rebounding, and averaging an astonishing 22.5 rpg in 17 post-season games. He was crushing the likes of Thurmond, Kareem, Hayes, Cowens, and Unseld...all among the greatest rebounders, all in their primes.
Now, that was a 36 year-old Wilt. How about a PRIME Chamberlain? We already know that if you reduced his 60-61 season of 27.2 rpg, down to 2010 levels, that he would still be averaging about 18 rpg. BUT, that was NOT a PRIME Wilt. True, it was his career high (and of course, an NBA record.) BUT, Wilt's PRIME was around the mid-60's. For instance, in his 66-67 season, he averaged 24.2 rpg, and playing "only" 45 mpg, in a league that averaged 59 rpg per team. Reduce that down to 2011 levels, and Wilt would be at 17.2 rpg. Not dramatically more Kevin Love's 15.4 rpg, but still well above it.
HOWEVER, as staggering as Wilt's 24.2 rpg in 66-67 was, it was even more remarkable when you consider that in his nine regular season games against Nate's Warriors, Wilt averaged 25.8 rpg. And in his nine regular season games against Russell, Chamberlain averaged 26.6 rpg. And then it gets even better. He faced BOTH of them in the post-season that year. In his six Finals games against Thurmond, he outrebounded him 28.5 rpg to 26.7 rpg, including a game of 38. And, he outrebounded Nate in five of those six games. As dominant as he was against Thurmond, he was even more overwhelming against Russell. In their five H2H games in the ECF's, Chamberlain outrebounded Russell, per game, by an eye-popping 32 rpg to 23 rpg margin. Included in those games, was a game one in which he outrebounded Russell, 32-15, AND snared those 32 rebounds out of a TOTAL of 120. In the clinching game five win, Wilt outrebounded Russell, 36-21...and out of a TOTAL of 128 rebounds. And finally, in game three of that series, Wilt outrebounded Russell, 41-29...and out of a TOTAL of 134 rebounds (a rebound rate of 30!.) This against the second greatest rebounder of all-time.
In fact, in his 142 H2H games against Russell, Chamberlain held a 92-42-8 margin in outrebounding him. He outrebounded Russell, in those 142 games, by a 28.7 rpg to 23.7 rpg margin...or FIVE per game! In many of them he just BURIED Russell. In Russell's last season, in 68-69, Wilt had one game in which he outrebounded Russell by a 42-18 margin. And, as amazing as that was, early in their career matchups, Wilt also outrebounded Russell in another game, by a 55-19 margin! In their 142 games, Chamberlain held a 7-1 edge in 40+ rebound games (Russell's high against Wilt was an even 40 BTW.) And Wilt held an overwhelming 23-4 edge in 35+ rebound games against Russell.
Don't forget that Russell was 6-10, with a long wingspan (supposedly longer than Kareem's), and he was a WORLD-CLASS high-jumper. Thurmond was a 6-11 beast, and had a higher standing reach than Wilt. And yet Wilt was just CRUSHING those guys.
So, here was a PRIME Wilt, running away with the rebounding title, at 24.2 rpg...and then collectively averaging 30 rpg against Thurmond and Russell in the post-season. In fact, Wilt not only had 29.1 rpg that post-season, he had a 30 rpg post-season the year before. And he also had a post-season series against Russell, in 64-65, in seven games, in which he outrebounded the great Russell by a 31-26 margin per game.
And for all those that claim that Rodman was a greater rebounder than Wilt, how about their post-season averages? Rodman averaged 9.9 rpg in his post-season career, with a high of 16.0 rpg (in only a three game series BTW)...while Wilt averaged 24.5 rpg. Not only that, but Wilt had EIGHT post-seasons of 24.7 rpg, or higher...including 26.6, 27.2, 29.1, and 30.2.
And yet, we are supposed to believe that players like 6-7 240 lb. Ben Wallace, who averaged as much as 15.4 rpg (and was easily outrebounding the likes of Shaq H2H), or a 6-9 Kevin Love, who is at 15.4 rpg THIS season, or a 6-8 220 lb. Rodman would be better rebounders than Wilt?
Or that while Wallace and Love could get 15.4 rpg in the 00's and this year,... a PRIME Wilt would only be at 14 rpg in this era????
Olympic Gold Medalist Bob Kurland was a 7-foot center and the first player to regularly dunk during games in the 1940's and 50's. Wilt Chamberlain was known to have dunked on an experimental 12-foot basket set up by Phog Allen at the University of Kansas in the 1950s. Michael Wilson, a former Harlem Globetrotter and University of Memphis basketball player, matched this feat on April 1, 2000 albeit with an alley-oop. Dwight Howard dunked on an 12ft basket in the 2009 NBA dunk contest also off an alley-oop.
Jim Pollard, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Stromile Swift, Shawn Kemp, Grant Hill, Darrell Griffith, Korleone Young, Edgar Jones, LeBron James, James White, Vince Carter, Jason Richardson, Jamario Moon, Hakeem Olajuwon, Chris Webber, Dwight Howard, Mike Conley, Sr.,Serge Ibaka, Samuel Dalembert, Brent Barry, Al Thornton and Josh Smith have each completed a dunk from the free-throw line, which is 15 feet from the basket. Unlike the others, Wilt Chamberlain did not require a full running start, but instead began his movement from inside the top half of the free throw circle.
Hummm...Wilt was taller, bigger, stronger, probably faster (he was a SPRINTER at KU), could probably leap higher (he was dunking on 12 ft. rims long before Howard), and was more skilled. Other than that, Howard was probably better.
Rodman was not even the athlete or the tenacious rebounder that Russell was, and he was getting 18.7 rpg at his peak. And we know that Russell was overwhelmed by Chamberlain in the rebounding department. If Rodman were getting 18-19, then Wilt would have been getting 20+.
at most 11 or so, this guy is not nearly the athlete and rebounder as shaq and howard so thats a pretty good upper limit
First off, Wilt was DEFINITELY more athletic than Dwight Howard, not to mention FAR STRONGER and taller. On top of that, Dwight doesn't even really box out, he just relies on his athleticism to grab all those rebounds. He's never really impressed me as a rebounder. Even further than that, rebounding is about DESIRE as much as athleticism. (Hence guys like Dennis Rodman, Kevin Love, Charles Barkley, etc) Combine the desire, athleticism, size, and strength of all those guys, and you get Wilt.
It's amazing the shortsightedness of some people. Wilt was the best rebounder in history by the numbers. In fact, the man who came in second (Russell) was known SOLELY for defense and rebounding, and wasn't even as good at it as Wilt was.
Dwight Howard has 20-20 games all the time. I honestly think a 20-20 game for Wilt would be a relatively normal occurrence even if he played in this era. The guy was a beast, can we just give credit where credit is due? There's no way Wilt would average anywhere less than 16 rebounds per game, and I would probably estimate his average to be around 17-21 RPG in his prime seasons. I'm no Wilt stan, but can we at least give some kind of credit to the best rebounder in the history of the game?
Last edited by DarkSephiroth : 03-26-2011 at 08:04 PM.
I don't think that there is an era where Wilt wouldn't peak at over 20 rpg.
If you take 1962-1968 Wilt, as he was and put him in today's NBA, I think he'd average around 18-20 rpg most years. He'd not be able to hit the 25+ per game mark in any era except the one he played in, but either would anyone else.