Golden State Warriors Offseason Homework: Carl Landry

This is an offseason series of articles we’ll be doing this summer at Blue Man Hoop. In these Offseason Homework pieces, we’ll be breaking down one Warrior to figure out which area of his game needs the most improvement before the 2012-2013 Warriors season kicks off in Phoenix on October 31.

Carl Landry’s Assignment: Rebound the Basketball

Carl Landry’s decision to sign with the Warriors was received as positively as any Golden State signing in recent memory—and with good reason. Landry represents the post-scoring threat the Warriors haven’t had in years. Sure, Landry’s something of a specialist in that respect, but his specialty is exceedingly rare. Particularly on his new team.

A soft, run-and-gun outfit for years, the Warriors now have someone they can dump the ball into and expect a bucket or a foul. That’s valuable. But Landry’s got a few shortcomings, too. (Of course he does. He wouldn’t have taken a two-year, $8 million deal if he didn’t).

Chief among Landry’s limitations is his rebounding ability. Among power forwards, Landry ranked 51st in overall rebound rate last season. He pulled down just 12.8 percent of missed shots when he was on the floor. That figure isn’t the end of the world, though. There are a number of very effective power forwards ranked behind Landry—Luis Scola, Nick Collison, Kenyon Martin and former Warrior Ekpe Udoh, to name a few.

But there are also 50 power forwards ahead of him.

Unfortunately for Landry, rebounding isn’t really the most teachable skill. There’s some coaching that could help, but beyond learning proper positioning, rebounding really comes down the the player himself. Intangibles like anticipation and desire are the two most vital ingredients in a good rebounder, so the reality is that most players either rebound or they don’t. A big transformation is rare.

But Landry hasn’t always been so bad on the boards. As a rookie, he grabbed 16.5 percent of all rebounds when he was on the floor. That number dipped to 13.6 percent in his second year, which was still better than his rate last season. Alarmingly, though, Landry has actually been even worse than he was last season; in 2009-10 and 2010-11, his rate fell to the 10 percent range—an almost unfathomably bad figure.

I guess the takeaway here is that Landry’s rebounding was bad last year, but has been both better and worse in the past. His minutes and usage rates haven’t changed much, and whatever fluctuations he’s had in those rates haven’t coincided with corresponding peaks or valleys in his rebounding. To me, that makes Landry’s rebounding an effort issue.

In the end, that’s a good and bad thing. It’s hard, and maybe impossible, to coach effort. But Mark Jackson, for all his faults, is billed as a motivator. Hopefully, he’ll be able to get Landry to commit to improving the weakest area of his game. Anything Jackson can get out of Landry on the boards will be a boon to the Warriors, who were the league’s worst rebounders last season. And, Landry’s got a little personal motivation to improve, too: he can opt out of his new deal after this season. If he maintains his excellent scoring rates and adds a respectable rebounding figure, he could be in for a much larger pay day than the one he got from the Warriors.

However it happens, Landry’s got to improve his work on the glass. If he can do that, he’ll help the Warriors and himself.

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