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Beyond the Box: Can Derrick Favors Continue OKC's Rebounding Success?

The new Thunder center will have to carry the load to help OKC stay competitive on the glass.

One constant of Thunder basketball has been excellent rebounding. .

Last season, however, Oklahoma City took a different approach.

Playing without Steven Adams for the first time in seven seasons, OKC looked to evolve into more of a small ball lineup with Al Horford leading the way. The 6-foot-9 center has averaged 8.2 rebounds per game for his career, with that number dropping as he’s worked to stretch the floor later in his career.

In 28 games for the Thunder last year, Horford pulled down 6.7 rebounds per game, and the team struggled early in the season on the boards.

But with the emergence of Tony Bradley and Moses Brown, Oklahoma City finished the year ranked sixth in rebounds per game across the entire league.

Now, Derrick Favors will get thrown into the mix to help the Thunder on the defensive boards.

For his career, Favors averages 7.2 rebounds per game, a number that took a hit last year in Utah where he only pulled down 5.5 boards a contest.

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Sam Presti and Mark Daigneault will hope Favors brings his level of production from his year in New Orleans, where he averaged 9.8 rebounds per game as the main big for the Pelicans.

Though he’s not the biggest body, the Thunder’s backcourt should be able to help Favors.

With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski, whatever combination takes the floor with Favors will be able to space the floor with ease, allowing the center to battle one-on-one down on the low block and use his veteran savvy to gain position and win the rebounding battle.

When the guards get down hill and attack the basket, that will also add another number to the paint who can help Favors rebound as well, seeing as backup center Mike Muscala historically hasn’t been much help cleaning the boards.

The evolution toward small ball and position-less basketball will continue this year in Oklahoma City, and while the young Thunder jumbo guys continue to get acclimated to the NBA, Favors will be heavily leaned upon to help win the rebounding battle. 

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