It takes a special kind of player to grab rebounds at a high rate. That player is in the middle of all the action and isn’t afraid of a little bit of physical contact. In today’s game, there are only a few players that remind us of the golden era where centers were the primary players touching the ball on both ends. Back then, guys like Bob Pettit, Bill Russell, and Wes Unseld had a job to do and they knew exactly what needed to be done.
There are some players like Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, and Bam Adebayo that could be all-time leading rebounders one day. Other franchises have a low enough record that one solid post player sticking around could overtake it. In the end, these 30 players are the best to ever crash the boards for their respective franchise.
These are the leading rebounders for every NBA team.
Atlanta Hawks – Bob Pettit 12,849 Rebounds
2nd Place: Bill Bridges: 8,656 Rebounds
Pettit is one of five players to ever average at least 20 rebounds per game. During the 1960-61 season, Pettit averaged 20.3 rebounds. His 27.9 points per game that season also made him one of three players, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry Lucas, to ever average a 20/20 in a season. Pettit averaged at least double-digit rebounds in every season he played for the Hawks, never averaging less than 12.4, which was his final season in the league.
Boston Celtics – Bill Russell 21,620 Rebounds
2nd Place: Robert Parish 11,051 Rebounds
What Robert Parish did for the Celtics was exceptional. The problem is that Bill Russell was in a different dimension when it came to his rebounding skills. Russell led the league in rebounding six times, which included securing at least 20 rebounds per game 10 times. In the playoffs, Russell owns a career average of 24.9 rebounds per game, which remains an NBA record.
Brooklyn Nets – Buck Williams 7,576 Rebounds
2nd Place: Billy Paultz 4,544 Rebounds
Williams spent eight seasons with the then-New Jersey Nets. He played at least 80 games in six of the eight seasons, where he averaged double-digit rebounds seven times. Williams was consistently around 12.0 rebounds per game, averaging a career-high 12.5 rebounds two times. In recent years, the closest a modern-day player has come to this record was Brook Lopez, who finished his Nets tenure with about 4,000 rebounds, which ranks third all-time.
Charlotte Hornets – Emeka Okafor 3,516 Rebounds
2nd Place: Larry Johnson 3,479 Rebounds
To put it bluntly, the Hornets haven’t had a true rebounding enforcer in a long time. No disrespect to Okafor, but the franchise has one of the lowest all-time marks. Okafor was the former No. 2 overall pick in 2004. In his five seasons with Charlotte, he played his best basketball, averaging at least 10 rebounds per game in all five seasons. His career-high was 11.3 rebounds during the 2006-2007 season.
Chicago Bulls – Michael Jordan 5,836 Rebounds
2nd Place: Tom Boerwinkle 5,745 Rebounds
When you think of rebounding greats, you think of forwards or centers on this list. Instead, the great shooting guard remains the best rebounder in team history. In recent years, Joakim Noah came as close as fourth, but Jordan and Scottie Pippen (3rd) remain cemented as two of the best. Jordan finished his career with a 6.2 average, which is a fairly high average for a guard.
Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron James 6,190 Rebounds
2nd Place: Zydrunas Ilgauskas 5,904 Rebounds
LeBron and Michael Jordan have common similarities. When it comes to the best overall players in team history, there is nobody better than Jordan with the Bulls. The same goes for LeBron with the Cavaliers. James was a frequent double-double contributor during his time with the Lakers even though he never averaged double-digit rebounds. We also should give a shoutout to Tristan Thompson, who finished third in the rebounding race after being drafted with the No. 4 overall pick by the Cavaliers in 2011.
Dallas Mavericks – Dirk Nowitzki 11,489 Rebounds
2nd Place: James Donaldson 4,589 Rebounds
The longevity factor certainly helps Nowitzki, but he was a pretty solid rebounder during his career. Despite never leading the league in rebounds, Nowitzki averaged 7.5 rebounds for his career. He averaged nine rebounds two times, including a career-high 9.7 during the 2004-2005 season. While he handled most of the scoring duties, he was a complete package at the end of the day.
Denver Nuggets – Dan Issel 6,630 Rebounds
2nd Place: Nikola Jokic 5,291 Rebounds
Had Issel played in the NBA to start his career, he might have finished with more. Issel started off playing in the ABA with the Kentucky Colonels. That included playing for the Nuggets for one season in the ABA. When the league folded, he remained with the Nuggets for the rest of his career. His best professional season came his rookie year when he led the ABA in scoring with 29.9 points and added 13.2 rebounds. Assuming Nikola Jokic stays with the team, he could take over as the leader one day in the future.
Detroit Pistons – Bill Laimbeer 9,430 Rebounds
2nd Place: Andre Drummond 8,199 Rebounds
Some might think this belongs to Ben Wallace, but he ranks fourth behind Bill Laimbeer, Andre Drummond, and Bob Lanier. Big, bad Bill Laimbeer was a physical force to reckon with in the 80s. He was the main catalyst and one of the faces of the “Bad Boys.” Laimbeer led the league in rebounding with a career-high 13.1 rebounds during the 1985-1986 season. He finished with double-digit rebounds seven straight years and finished his career with a 9.7 average.
Golden State Warriors – Nate Thurmond 12,771 Rebounds
2nd Place: Wilt Chamberlain 10,768 Rebounds
Nate Thurmond was an absolute stud. He was so effective in the rebounding class that he finished his career with more rebounds than the great Wilt Chamberlain. Thurmond averaged double-digit rebounds 12 times out of the 15 seasons he played. He averaged less than 14 rebounds just once, his rookie season while playing for the Warriors.
Houston Rockets – Hakeem Olajuwon 13,382 Rebounds
2nd Place: Elvin Hayes 6,974 Rebounds
As you can see the difference between first and second place, Hakeem Olajuwon was on a different level. Olajuwon had longevity as he played nearly his entire career with the Rockets. Olajuwon led the league in rebounding two times, in back-to-back seasons in 1989 and 1990. He also averaged double-digit rebounds 12 consecutive years, which included starting at his rookie season. The former two-time Finals MVP finished his career with an 11.1 average.
Indiana Pacers – Mel Daniels 7,643 Rebounds
2nd Place: Dale Davis 6,006 Rebounds
Daniels was a standout for the Pacers from 1968 to 1974. The Pacers were participating in the ABA during this time. Daniels led the ABA in rebounding three times while playing for the Pacers. That included a career-high 18.0 rebounds in 1971. During his six seasons with the Pacers, he averaged less than 15.0 rebounds just one time.
Los Angeles Clippers – DeAndre Jordan 7,988 Rebounds
2nd Place: Elton Brand 4,710 Rebounds
During his prime, Jordan led the league in rebounding back-to-back seasons in 2014 and 2015. That included a league-leading 15.0 rebounds in 2015. Jordan averaged a league-leading 15.2 rebounds in 2018, but it didn’t lead the league in rebounding. For an eight-year stretch, which included time outside of the Clippers, Jordan averaged double-digit rebounds.
Los Angeles Lakers – Elgin Baylor 11,463 Rebounds
2nd Place: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 10,279 Rebounds
Baylor averaged double-digit rebounds in 11 of his first 12 seasons. That included four straight years of averaging at least 15.0 rebounds per game. Baylor nearly joined the 20-rebound per game club in 1961 but came up 0.2 rebounds short. His 19.8 rebounds per game that season was a career-high.
Memphis Grizzlies – Marc Gasol 5,942 Rebounds
2nd Place: Zach Randolph 5,612 Rebounds
When the Grizzlies made the Conference Finals in 2013, the team had the two best rebounders in team history at power forward and center. Gasol was never a premier rebounder in his career, but he was good enough to average 7.6 per game in his career. The former Defensive Player of the Year was a post presence and did just enough to own this record while playing for the Grizzlies. An added piece is that Gasol finished with nearly 2,000 more rebounds than his brother Pau, who also played for the Grizzlies at one point in his career.
Miami Heat – Udonis Haslem 5,773 Rebounds
2nd Place: Alonzo Mourning 4,807 Rebounds
If Bam Adebayo keeps developing, this could be his record one day. For now, he remains one of the best Heat players ever. Udonis Haslem, who remains as a player/coach these days, has always been the team enforcer. Haslem has been in the league since 2003 and hasn’t averaged more than 9.0 rebounds during a season. In the beginning, getting eight to nine rebounds was a given. Since 2013, that has not been the case.
Milwaukee Bucks – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 7,161 Rebounds
2nd Place: Giannis Antetokounmpo 6,040 Rebounds
This record will likely belong to Giannis by the end of his stay with Milwaukee unless he gets hurt or traded. Overtaking Abdul-Jabbar will be a big deal as it only took him six seasons to accumulate over 7,100 rebounds. Abdul-Jabbar never averaged less than 14 rebounds per game and he averaged over 16 rebounds per game three times.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Kevin Garnett 10,718 Rebounds
2nd Place: Karl-Anthony Towns 5,361 Rebounds
Garnett was a top rebounder in the league from 2004 to 2007, leading the league in each of those four seasons. Garnett averaged double-digit rebounds in each season from 1999 to 2007. On top of being one of the best overall defenders on the floor, Garnett was a tough battle in the post. Karl-Anthony Towns could make his way up there one day, but that all depends on if he stays with the team for the long haul.
New Orleans Pelicans – Anthony Davis 4,906 Rebounds
2nd Place: David West 3,853 Rebounds
Would Zion Williamson be in the top-10 if he stayed healthy all three years? That’s a topic for another time. The Pelicans have one of the lowest records, but the team has only been around for about 20 years. Anthony Davis is by far the best rebounder the team has ever seen and he left the team in the middle of his prime.
New York Knicks – Patrick Ewing 10,759 Rebounds
2nd Place: Willis Reed 8,414 Rebounds
Overtaking Willis Reed was a pretty big deal. Reed was a main cog in the team winning championships in 1970 and 1973. His job was to rebound. Then came Patrick Ewing, who dominated bigs in the 90s, in an era where the center position was considered the most important on the floor. Had Ewing not finished one season with 9.9 rebounds, he would have averaged double-digit rebounds 10 straight years. He never led the league in rebounding.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Jack Sikma 7,729 Rebounds
2nd Place: Shawn Kemp 5,978 Rebounds
Sikma was the team’s best rebounder during the 1979 championship team. He finished with double-digit rebounds in eight of his first nine seasons, which included seven straight seasons from the start of his rookie season. His career-high came in 1982 when he finished with 12.7 per game. The only other time he had at least 12 per game was during the championship season.
Orlando Magic – Dwight Howard 8,072 Rebounds
2nd Place: Nikola Vucevic 6,381 Rebounds
When Howard played for the Magic, there is a valid argument that he was the best center in the league, even when Shaquille O’Neal was playing. Howard led the league in rebounding five times during a stretch from 2008 to 2013. He had double-digit rebounds for an average of 14 straight years from the start of his rookie season. Had he never left the Magic, he would have made this record unbreakable.
Philadelphia 76ers – Dolph Schayes 11,256 Rebounds
2nd Place: Redd Kerr 9,506 Rebounds
As a member of the Syracuse Nationals, Shayes led the league in rebounding with 16.4 in 1951. Throughout his career, he was considered one of the best players on the floor. He had double-digit rebounds for the first 11 seasons of his career. Schayes finished his career with a 12.1 average. That average followed him into the postseason where he averaged 12.2 per game.
Phoenix Suns – Alvan Adams 6,937 Rebounds
2nd Place: Shawn Marion 6,616 Rebounds
Adams finishes his career with the Suns as the all-time leader and did so by never averaging at least 10 rebounds per game. He came close in 1979 when he finished with 9.2 per game. Adams reached at least nine per game in three of the first four seasons, but that dropped after that. Adams finished his career with a 7.0 per game average.
Portland Trail Blazers – LaMarcus Aldridge 5,434 Rebounds
2nd Place: Clyde Drexler 5,339 Rebounds
Aldridge finished averaging double-digit rebounds two times and that was his final two years with the team. Aldridge had a career-high 11.1 in his second to last season. He eventually overtook Clyde Drexler, who nearly joined Michael Jordan as the only guards to lead their franchise in rebounds as guards.
Sacramento Kings – Sam Lacey 9,353 Rebounds
2nd Place: Jerry Lucas 8,876 Rebounds
Given how dominant Lucas was back in the day, one might have thought this award would have belonged to him. Maybe, even Oscar Robertson too. Instead, the record is held by Sam Lacey, who played for the team from 1971 to 1982. He played in Cincinnati, Kansas City-Omaha, and Kansas City. Lacey had double-digit rebounds six straight seasons to open his career and once averaged 14.2 per game.
San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan 15,091 Rebounds
2nd Place: David Robinson 10,497
Some franchises are lucky to get one player to finish their career with the team over 10,000 career rebounds. The Spurs have two of them. The twin towers remain two of the best big men to ever play the game, but it comes as no surprise that Duncan leads this stat. Duncan never led the league in rebounding but he was consistent. He has double-digit rebounds 12 straight years to open his career, where he consistently hovered around 12.0 rebounds per game. In the playoffs, he finished with 11.4 per game, even topping 15.4 during the 2003 championship season.
Toronto Raptors – Chris Bosh 4,776 Rebounds
2nd Place: Jonas Valanciunas 3,961 Rebounds
Bosh had his best rebounding years with the Raptors. Bosh only had two seasons where he averaged at least 10.0 rebounds per game and both of those years were with Toronto. It was unfortunate that it was his final season with the Raptors that he averaged a career-high 10.8 rebounds. After that, it was when he famously left the team to join the Miami Heat.
Utah Jazz – Karl Malone 14,601 Rebounds
2nd Place: Mark Eaton 6,939 Rebounds
Everyone remembers Malone as the man that finished second in the all-time scoring ranks. What many forget is that he was a great rebounder as well. After his rookie season, Malone averaged at least 10.0 rebounds in nine consecutive seasons. He nearly went 13 straight years, but in his middle two seasons, he averaged 9.8 and 9.9 rebounds. Altogether, he was not just one of the best in Utah, but a complete NBA plays in itself.
Washington Wizards – Wes Unseld 13,769 Rebounds
2nd Place: Elvin Hayes 9,305 Rebounds
When Unseld first joined the league, there was nobody that could keep him off the glass. He started his career averaging 18.2, 16.7, 16.9, 17.6, and 15.9 rebounds per game. After one season where he didn’t average double-digit rebounds, Unseld closed out his career averaging double-digit rebounds seven more times. While Elvin Hayes was a great rebounder himself, there was nobody better than Unseld.