With the NBA season soon coming and the back to school stench in the air, it seems only natural to check out how the Nets are preparing. In an imaginary world where NBA players attend basketball prep school, here’s some courses & required reading we suggest.
Prerequisite Reading: Oulipo Compendium. Oulipo is a collective of French writers and mathematicians dedicated to creating literature through constrained conditions. A writer will pick a constraint -- a common one is N+7, in which the writer replaces every noun in his or her text with the seventh noun found in the dictionary after the original noun’s entry -- then create poetry or prose following that imposition. The author’s creativity is stretched, new enclaves of ideas are uncovered, weird results are produced.
Everyone is restricted in some way in his or her work. We can all find motivation in Oulipo texts and their ingenuity and resourcefulness and workarounds, none more so than Reggie Evans. Whether because of genetic limitation or artistic decision, Evans’ game is one of the most limited in the NBA. He rebounds. That’s it. Last season, in 771 minutes, Evans took 72 field goal attempts. About one every 10 minutes. 69 of those shots came in the paint, 62 within the restricted area. He had 17 assists and six blocks. But in that time he also grabbed 271 rebounds, good enough for a 12.7 per 36-minute average.
While the distinction between rebounding and everything else hasn’t been quite as stark throughout the rest of his career as it was last year, his bread-winning trait has always been his rebounding. So cultivate it! Now that he's surrounded by the most offensive firepower of his career, he should really get creative out there, really explore the outer recesses of this rebound-exclusive conceit. See how many double-digit rebounding games he can pile up in a row without scoring. Only rebound with one hand for a game. Try going the entire season without shooting unless it's off an offensive rebound. (Also, try to go the entire season without using the letter "e." Just see if Stackhouse notices.)
Reggie Evans's career has been a lipogram in offense. So now, see how far out into the cosmos his limitations can take him.
Film Studies: Leandro Barbosa and Reggie Evans hold hands
Just as important as playing well on the court is being a dependable teammate off the court. This very brief course expounds on the beauty and simplicity of relationships in team sports. When your teammate extends his hand (either metaphorical or actual), will you slap it away or embrace it?
Elective: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Yeah, Reggie’s past indiscretions forced his hand here -- this placement came down from the administration. It’s more of a mandatory workshop than elective, really. Mr. Evans, you've got to pay attention here, because you should really cut back on this particular brand of rebounding physiological warfare. It's not very becoming. You’ve lost your ability to pick an elective this year. The registrar will be in touch next summer and hopefully your status will be updated to reflect your attendance and participation in this workshop.
Student Notes: Reggie Evans is the classic “hate him if he’s one of them, love him if he’s on your side” player. (He’s also the type of player who demands to be referred to by his first name.) And now, presumably, he’s on your side. Congrats! He gets minutes in NBA games for two reasons: to rebound and aggravate opponents. The more talented his teammates are, the more capably he can lay back in the cut and dole out that charmed type of Reggie Evans manipulation. On paper at least, this is the most talented team he’s ever been a part of. He should thrive. He’s also in a position to become the dominant personality (off the court, at least) on an otherwise tepid team of characters. Deron, Johnson and Wallace will undoubtedly run the show in terms of actual basketball, but those guys aren't really known to host the party. Reggie’s crooked charisma and goofiness should easily cut through the team’s general blandness -- another important role for the consummate role player.