OAKLAND -- The easiest way to quantify the Warriors' collective rebound this season? Rebounding.
The Warriors came into 2012-13 as arguably the worst rebounding team in the NBA for three years running, and at least in terms of opponent differential, there was no "arguably" about it. They were 30th -- dead last -- for three consecutive seasons.
This year? They are second in rebound differential, and gaining on the front-running Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging 4.6 more rebounds per game than the competition as opposed to 6.6 fewer last season. That's an incredible leap in glass-sweeping for a team that still lacks a monster rebounder.
Across the statistical board, the Warriors have made similar quantum improvements on the boards. They are tied for second in total rebounds (28th a year ago), tied for second in rebound percentage (30th a year ago), first in defensive rebounds (tied for 24th a year ago) and 10th in offensive rebounds (29th a year ago).
Where it's most telltale: The win-loss column. The Warriors are 20-2 when they out-rebound opponents, 2-8 when they don't. They have out-rebounded opponents 22 times in 32 games. Last season, in 66 games, they out-rebounded opposing teams only 17 times.
Even with center Andrew Bogut still out of action, they're only getting stronger. The Warriors have an ongoing streak of 14 games with at least 41 rebounds -- something they haven't done in a decade -- and are 11-3 in those games.
"It boiled down to us understanding that we had one guy who has historically been a rebounder his entire career, and that's David Lee," he said. "We realized we have to do it by committee and that the last line of our defense -- which we have preached from Day 1 -- is securing the basketball. If you don't rebound, it's a poor defensive trip, it's a reset. So now we've got a bunch of guys -- small guys and big guys -- committed to gang rebounding."
Just that term alone gives the rejuvenated effort some attitude. "No question, we take it personal," Carl Landry said. "We try to give teams one shot and one shot only. That's what winning teams do."
The Warriors have nine players averaging at least three rebounds a game. Lee is second among NBA power forwards at 11.1 per game. Stephen Curry is third among point guards at 4.5. Klay Thompson is eighth among shooting guards at 4.0.
The bench has been key. Landry is averaging 6.7 rebounds in 25 minutes, so his boards per minute are nearly the equal of Lee. Rookie Draymond Green is averaging 3.6 rebounds a game in only 14 minutes of playing time.
And who leads the Warriors in rebounds per minutes played? Would you believe Andris Biedrins, who is averaging 3.6 boards in 10.1 minutes? That would project to 12.9 rebounds if he were playing 36 minutes.
Just imagine if and when Bogut, who has a 9.3 per game career rebound average, gets into the mix.
"We're a good rebounding team now," Landry said. "With Andrew, the sky will be the limit."
Lee points largely to personnel upgrades for the about-face on the boards.
"Our guards and wings have done a great job helping us out," he said. "Last year we started two smaller guards, and we were outmatched size-wise at every position. And it definitely takes five guys. You can't just have one or two guys rebounding and the rest of the guys standing around watching."
It's just about focus, not something you work on in practice, Lee said. Landry agreed, noting that when the team looks at the postgame box score now, two categories are emphasized.
"Field goal percentage and rebounding," he said. "Those two go together. If we're outshooting the opposition and also out-rebounding them, we know we have a very good chance of winning."
Indeed, because they are packing the paint, contesting more shots and holding opponents to 42.7 percent shooting (second-best in the league), the Warriors are getting more opportunities for rebounds, and taking advantage of them.
Jackson believes the turning point in the Warriors' rebounding mentality came when they lost a 107-101 double-overtime home game to Denver on Nov. 10. The Nuggets out-rebounded them 65-54, including 23-13 on the offensive boards.
"The single reason we lost that game was because we couldn't get rebounds," he said. "You can preach a sermon all you want, but at the end of the day, people have to live it, feel it and take the hit of the results when you don't do it right. That loss hurt. It stung."