Larry Sanders, not a household name by any means, has established himself as one of the best rim defenders in the league in his third season. In limited minutes early in his career, Sanders put up very impressive per-36 and advanced numbers. With his minutes per game nearly doubling from last season, Sanders is making a remarkable impact for the Bucks, helping to lead a group that ranks sixth in defensive efficiency.
Sanders has quickly become the top shot swatter in the league this year, leading the association in block percentage among qualified players at 9.4 percent. And despite playing just over 24 minutes per game, Sanders is leading the league in total blocks and blocks per game. For context, the four guys below him play between four and 11 minutes per game more than Sanders.
Sanders’ presence should lead to an interesting clash - the Sixers shoot 65.6 percent at the rim as a team, per hoopdata.com, while the Bucks allow teams to hit only 61.2 percent of their shots there, good for fifth in the league. Milwaukee blocks 3.9 percent more shots with Sanders on the floor than off, so slashers like Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young will have to be wary taking it to the rack with Sanders on the floor while going into attack mode when he is on the bench.
Despite having a dominant rebounder to contribute on the boards, the Bucks are not a good rebounding team by any means. That could be due to the perimeter-oriented lineups featuring Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and Ersan Ilyasova they often run. They’d be in real trouble without Sanders, though.
Milwaukee ranks 28th in defensive rebounding percentage, despite Sanders ranking 10th in that category individually. Outside of Ilyasova and his 20.2 DRB%, no other player getting consistent heavy minutes (we see you, John Henson!) pulls down more than 15 percent of defensive rebounds when they’re on the floor.
Something will have to break in this game, though; the Sixers rank a lowly 25th in offensive rebounding. They don’t have a since player in the top 50 in individual offensive rebounding rate, and have only one player (Lavoy Allen, 10.8 percent) pulling down a double-digit percentage of available offensive rebounds. If there was a time for the Sixers to do some damage via second chance points, it would be against these Bucks.