best rebounding seasons in history?

Evans challenges all-time champ Rodman

Care to guess who's having one of the best rebounding seasons in history?

Your first instinct might be to say Kevin Garnett , who's running away with the rebounding title. He's averaging 13.7 boards a game, which is nearly two more than his closest competitor. Considering his sizable lead, it seems heretical to suggest somebody else is the league's best rebounder. But it's true. Though hardly a household name,

the Seattle SuperSonics ' Reggie Evans is putting Garnett to shame with his rebounding exploits.

How did I arrive at this conclusion? It all starts with a simple premise: A player can't get a rebound unless somebody misses a shot. Following from that logic, the best way to rate rebounders is by the percentage of missed shots they reel in, not by the amount they pull down per game or even per minute.

Consider the following example.

Player A gets 10 rebounds in a game with 20 missed shots, while Player B nabs 20 in a game with 100 missed shots. Player B has twice as many rebounds, but is he really better? Player A grabbed a Herculean 50 percent of all the missed shots in his game, while Player B took in only 20 percent. We shouldn't hold it against Player A that there were so few missed shots for him to rebound.

This is where my tool called Rebound Rate comes in. By measuring the percentage of available rebounds that a player gets while he's on the floor, Rebound Rate makes Player A's superiority obvious.

To calculate a player's Rebound Rate, start by adding all the rebounds and opponents' rebounds in his team's games. Multiply that result by the percentage of the team's minutes that player has played. This gives you the approximate number of rebounds available while he was on the court. Finally, take his total rebounds, divide it by the available rebounds, and multiply by 100.

And there you have it a player's Rebound Rate.

Using this calculation, Garnett's Rebound Rate is exceptional. Since there are 10 players on the court at any time, an average Rebound Rate is 10.0, but Garnett pulls in 20.3 percent of the available rebounds when he's on the court. Basically, he's doing the work of two people. The reigning MVP's effort is doubly amazing considering how much time he spends playing on the perimeter on both offense and defense.

However, a few players have been even more exceptional than Garnett, most notably Evans.

He has yanked down nearly a quarter of the missed shots when he's been on the court, making him the runaway winner in Rebound Rate. Two spots behind him is teammate Danny Fortson , who led the league in this category in 2001-02 and again last season (Garnett was third) and is in the running this year. Seattle's dynamic duo doesn't possess glitzy per-game averages 9.3 for Evans and 6.1 for Fortson. But once you consider that each averages fewer than 25 minutes per game, it becomes easy to see how they can rank at the top.

For further evidence of the Seattle duo's impact, just look at the Sonics' overall Rebound Rate.

They grab 52.1 percent of missed shots, the fifth-best mark in the league, and that's almost entirely due to the efforts of Evans and Fortson. Nick Collison is the only other Sonic regular with a Rebound Rate above 12, while the five Sonics who play the most minutes Ray Allen , Rashard Lewis , Luke Ridnour , Vladimir Radmanovic and Antonio Daniels all are in single digits. With so few teammates pulling their own weight, it's extraordinary that Evans and Fortson can more than make up for them in their limited minutes.

Garnett, meanwhile, is fifth, right behind Indiana's Jeff Foster . Garnett's Rebound Rate is still amazing, especially since he can't focus single-mindedly on rebounding as the four players ahead of him do. But for pure rebounding excellence, the two Sonics are a cut above right now.

As a matter of fact, let's get some historical perspective on Evans's extraordinary rebounding performance. Based on the Rebound Rates for every player since 1970-71 when the NBA started tracking opponents' rebounds, Evans is moving into the exalted territory previously occupied by only one man: Dennis Rodman.

The seven best Rebound Rates since 1970-71 all belong to the Worm during seven consecutive seasons from 1991-92 to 1997-98.

In six of them, he grabbed more than a quarter of the available rebounds, the only player in the last 35 years to do so. But with just a slight increase in the season's final 25 games, Evans could be joining Rodman. He's already broken into the bottom layer of Rodman's era of dominance, eclipsing the former Mr. Electra's 1997-98 campaign. Except for the Ruthian exploits of the Worm, Evans is having the best rebounding season in the past four decades.

Understanding Rebound Rate also makes it easier to comprehend the Sonics' staggering improvement this year. With Evans and Fortson making up for their teammates' biggest shortcomings, the Sonics have gone from being one of the league's worst rebounding teams to one of its best.

Thus, while Garnett's gaping lead in rebounding average garners the spotlight, a much more amazing feat is being accomplished in relative obscurity. Reggie Evans cleans up on KG and everybody else.

By John Hollinger , ESPN Insider