LOS ANGELES — Trying to counteract their woeful rebounding this season, the Timberwolves have decided to make things interesting. That is, they have started putting a little money on the line if players allow their man to secure an offensive rebound.

"If you give up an offensive rebound, you owe something," forward Jarred Vanderbilt said. "That's putting it in the back of guys' minds — don't give up offensive rebounds."

Every time a player allows one he has to put $100 into the pot, center Naz Reid said, with the evidence coming in film sessions. Someone claims the pot if they get more than five offensive rebounds in a game. If more than one person reaches that mark, they break the tie by shooting half-court shots at the end of practice.

"I'm trying to get every bit of money," Reid said.

There has been a decent amount of money for everyone to win lately because the Wolves had the worst defensive rebounding percentage in the NBA entering Saturday at 66.3%. That statistic tells how often the Wolves grab all available defensive rebounds.

The smaller Wolves knew they weren't going to be one of the best rebounding teams in the league this season, but they didn't expect to be this bad.

“It's not that we need bigger bodies, it's that we need to fight to get the rebound. It's not just the bigs . . . but everybody.”
Jarred Vanderbilt

Two questions surround the woeful numbers. What can they do now to fix it? And is there only so much the current roster can do given its construction from the end of Gersson Rosas' tenure, which left the Wolves without many traditional options to fill the power forward position?

Coach Chris Finch said the answer lies in both areas.

"It's a mixed bag for sure," Finch said. "Our habits have to be better. We've gotten away from just simple box-outs and sandwiches and there's too many times, particularly in the guts of the game, when people are running by and getting put-backs. That's inexcusable and that's habits.

"Then some of it is just we run out of size. Some of it is personnel-driven. I believe rebounding is one of those things that guys who are really good rebounders just have this knack for getting the ball."

Vanderbilt seems to be one of the few Wolves with that knack. He grabs 20% of all defensive rebounds when he's on the floor, ahead of Karl-Anthony Towns' 16.2%. That places him in the top 30 among all players who average at least 15 minutes. He's also often in the running for those pots of money with the highest offensive rebounding percentage (9.1%).

"He's been winning the pot," Reid said.

Vanderbilt is of the mind that size isn't an excuse for poor rebounding.

"It's just effort," he said.

He said the Wolves haven't done a good enough job of rebounding as a unit and said the guards have to help more. This was one reason the monetary incentive began.

"It's not that we need bigger bodies, it's that we need to fight to get the rebound," Vanderbilt said. "It's not just the bigs … but everybody. All five. You have other great teams, the good rebounders come with guards getting the long ones."

The Wolves aren't boxing out well enough, Vanderbilt said, nor are they getting off their feet regularly enough to go grab rebounds as high as they can get them.

"We should be doing one or the other …" Vanderbilt said. "Because just standing there in this league, you're not going to get no rebounds like that."

Vanderbilt also said the Wolves have to be willing to sacrifice statistics, since boxing out or sandwiching a bigger opponent with two Wolves can sometimes mean clearing a path for a teammate to get a rebound.

"That's the part of just sacrificing instead of just wanting to grab the rebound," Vanderbilt said "If I can't grab it, I'm going to make sure my man doesn't grab it."

Boxing out. The old-school basketball fundamental sounds like a simple solution, but Reid said it can be too easy for players to stand around and watch as a shot goes up. It's a habit the Wolves have to break

"It's a mental thing …" Reid said. "Everybody is looking at the ball in the air. You're not really thinking about the guy coming in and crashing. That's how some guys get their money."

Or in the Wolves' case, how some guys lose some of theirs.