Best rebounders of all time: who are the best rebounders in basketball history?

Best rebounders of all time: who are the best rebounders in basketball history?

Claudia Kogi
March 19, 2023 at 1:22 PM

In the National Basketball Association, rebounds are an overly vital part of the game. And while it is not just about getting the ball, it is also about securing possession and preventing your opponent from doing so. So, who are the best rebounders of all time in the NBA?

Top rebounding averages of all time
Best rebounders of all time: who are the best rebounders in basketball history? Photo: D Raphael, Jennifer Pottheiser, Tim DeFrisco (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Yes! Shooters attract most of the attention in the NBA, but their jobs would only be possible with big players fighting and wrestling under the rim. Rebounders' ability to overcome defensive opposition and keep the possession alive on offense is the key to any team's success. Read on to find more information about some of the best offensive rebounders of all time.

Top 10 best rebounders of all time

Dominant rebounders had graced the NBA ever since the league's first season in 1946 when it was called the Basketball Association of America. Since then, not even a decade has passed without legendary rebounders emerging and dominating in respective teams, offensively and defensively.

After an in-depth analysis, SportsBrief has compiled a list displaying the NBA's best rebounders of all time. Keep in mind that the following listed players have been ranked according to the number of rebounds they have secured since debuting in the league.

10. Nate Thurmond

Best offensive rebounders of all time
Nate Thurmond of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands on the court during a game against the Boston Celtics circa 1976 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: D Raphael
Source: Getty Images
  • Rebounds:14,464
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, and Cleveland Cavaliers

A legend born in Akron, Ohio, alongside other high-profile players like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Gus Johnson, Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond, was a phenomenal rebounder with a well-decorated career in the league.

He played 964 games in his 14-year NBA career spell, averaging 15 points and as many rebounds per game. In fact, his average rebounds per game are the fifth-best in NBA history.

9. Kevin Garnett

Best offensive rebounders of all time
Kevin Garnett poses for a portrait during the Class of 2020 Tip-Off Celebration and Awards Gala on 14 May 2021 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Photo: Jennifer Pottheiser
Source: Getty Images
  • Rebounds: 14,662
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves

Famously dubbed KG or the Big Ticket, thanks to his emphatic dunking and athleticism, Kevin Garnett is still considered one of the greatest power forwards to have ever played in the NBA. Unlike other players who would play one or two positions, Kevin could play all five positions like a pro.

During his 21-year career spell, the famous basketball guru averaged ten rebounds per game, winning the league's MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards.

8. Robert Parish

Top 10 best rebounders of all time
Robert Parish of the Boston Celtics looks on against the Denver Nuggets circa 1994 at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Tim DeFrisco
Source: Getty Images
  • Rebounds: 14,715
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls

If there was one solid centre, NBA still marvels at, it sure is Robert Parish. He played in the position for 21 seasons and tied for the second most in league history. Known for his strong defense, high-arcing jump shots, and clutch rebounding late games, Parish was a four-time champion and a member of one of the most successful 'Big Threes' in league history.

Additionally, he was a nine-time All-Star, earned two All-NBA selections, and averaged only nine rebounds per game in his regular-season career.

7. Karl Malone

Best offensive rebounders of all time
Karl Malone defends against the Toronto Raptors on 5 December 2000 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Andy Hayt
Source: Getty Images
  • Rebounds: 14,968
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers

At the seventh position sits Karl Malone, a renowned two-time NBA MVP, 14-time All-Star, and 14-time All-NBA. Karl Malone would definitely rank at the top if this were a list of some of the most decorated basketball players in history.

Throughout his career spell, Malone played 1476 games for Utah Jazz and LA Lakers and averaged 10.1 rebounds per game.

6. Tim Duncan

Best rebounders of all time
Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles during the 2001 All-Star Game on 1 February 2001 at the MCI Arena in Washington D.C. Photo: Andrew D Bernstein
Source: Getty Images
  • Rebounds: 15,091
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): San Antonio Spurs

Tim, whose full name is Timothy Theodore Duncan, is a former American professional basketball player, highly regarded as one of the greatest power forwards of all time and one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA.

One notable thing about Tim Duncan is that he spent all his career days, from 1997 to 2016, in just one team, the San Antonio Spurs. He was vital to the team, leading them to five NBA championships.

5. Moses Malone

Top 10 best rebounders of all time
Moses Malone of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots on 9 November 1993 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo: Nathaniel S Butler
Source: Getty Images
  • Rebounds: 16,212
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): Utah Stars, Spirits of St. Louis, Buffalo Braves, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs

At the fifth position is a legendary player who became the league's champion in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers, leading the league six times in rebounding and averaging 12.3 boards.

Meet Moses Malone, who boasts an impressive NBA career and is regarded as one of the most outstanding big men in the league's history. He had such an undeniable bounding prowess that he was named Chairman of the Boards.

4. Elvin Hayes

Who is the best rebounder of all time?
Elvin Hayes arrives at the Chris Paul Family Foundation's "Celebrity Server" Fundraiser at Mastro's Steakhouse on 28 October 2018 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Bob Levey
Source: Getty Images
  • Rebounds: 16,279
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): San Diego/Houston Rockets, Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets, Houston Rockets

Another yet legendary player on the list, boasting impressive career accolades, is Elvin Hayes, who had his prime years in the 1970s. He notably rose to fame following his NBA championship win with the Washington Bullets in 1978.

Consequently, he still deserved the Finals MVP award ahead of his teammate Wes Unseld that year. Nevertheless, Elvin Hayes was a great rebounder, led the league in rebounding twice, and registered impressive averages of 16.9 and 18.1 in the 1969/70 and 1973/74 seasons, respectively.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

NBA best rebounders of all time
Former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar poses backstage on 20 June 2022. Photo: Todd Owyoung
Source: Getty Images
  • Rebounds: 17,440
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers

Born as Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr, Kareem is a former American professional basketball legend who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association, NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring.

For the 20 seasons, he played in 1560 games from 1969 to 1989, averaging 24.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. That is besides his impressive career highlights and awards.

2. Bill Russell

  • Rebounds: 21,620
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): Boston Celtics

Of course, there was no way the list would miss names like the legendary Bill Russell. In an era where most statistics look almost insignificant, Russel has what could only be described as defiling all odds.

Best rebounders of all time in the NBA
Portrait of former Boston Celtic Bill Russell during the 1999 NBA season. Photo: Sam Forencich
Source: Getty Images

The legend has tallied impressive rebounding numbers, which seem impossible in today's NBA. The 11-time league champion with Boston Celtics completed his career recording a tally of 963 games with an average of 22.5 points per game.

1. Wilt Chamberlain

  • Rebounds: 23,924
  • Status: Retired
  • Team(s): Harlem Globetrotters, Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers

When it comes to Wilt Chamberlain, it does not matter whether you are a basketball fan or not. His name is usually at the top of most statistical records, from best, skilled, well-decorated careers, numerous awards, and so on.

Top rebounding averages of all time
American basketball player Wilt Chamberlain (1936-1999) pictured wearing a Philadelphia Warriors vest whilst standing in front of a trophy cabinet circa 1962. Photo: Rolls Press
Source: Getty Images

He is renowned for scoring at unbelievable rates during his peak years, grabbing rebounds like no other player has ever in the sport's history. Even more interesting, he finished with more rebounds than his long-time rival, Bill Russel.

The National Basketball Association has seen some of the best rebounders of all time emerge decade after decade. All of them bear one goal: being one of the most sought-after basketball players in the world.

READ ALSO: The 10 tallest volleyball players in the world currently

SportsBrief also listed the ten tallest volleyball players and how their heights helped them become better players. Height is an essential aspect of volleyball. Taller players have the upper hand, especially when reaching for the ball during a pass.

Russia takes the lead in producing most of the tallest volleyball players in the world. They include Morteza Mehrzad, Dmitriy Muserskiy, and Renan Buiatti. Click on the above link to learn more about volleyball's tallest stars.

Claudia Kogi photo
Claudia Kogi
SEO Editor