Reggie Evans: For better and for worse (SEASON GRADE)

Previous: Gerald Wallace Next: Brook Lopez

 

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AP Photo/Duane Burleson

By the numbers: 80 G, 56 GS, 24.6 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .479 FG%, .509 FT%, .506 TS%, .479 eFG%

Advanced: 12.8 PER, 102 ORtg, 100 DRtg, 11.0 USG%, 15.5 ORB%, 38.0 DRB%, 26.7 TRB%, 3.2 AST%, 2.0 STL%, 0.5 BLK%, 1.3 estimated wins added

Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche were each other’s antithesis this season. With Blatche, you never knew what you were getting the second he touched the floor or the ball. Blatche could throw down a unique crossover, step back, and nail a 18-footer off the dribble, or he could throw a no-look pass five feet over someone’s head out-of-bounds. Anything was possible. Evans was the exact opposite; every second Reggie Evans was in the game, you knew what he was there for: rebound, defend, and terrify fans on offense. There were no surprises, only occasional bonuses.

Reggie Evans is Brooklyn’s heart, soul, defensive anchor, and biggest problem. He elicited the crowd’s loudest cheers and most disdain. He was the team’s most replaceable starter and most irreplaceable locker room figure.

No player on the team’s roster represented the dichotomy between the in-arena and online Brooklyn Nets experience. Day after day this year I heard criticism on Twitter from Nets fans begging for Evans to get taken out of the rotation. He was a horrible offensive payer that didn’t deserve a starting spot, they’d say. He was a black hole that couldn’t defend long forwards.

But in the arena? No player received as much undying adulation as Evans from the fans, who cheered every one of his hustle plays and tough rebounds.

The Reggie Evans experience was, if nothing else, consistent. As a starter — a position Evans earned 18 games into the season over Kris Humphries — Evans showed off his pronounced strengths and weaknesses for 25-30 minutes every night. He assaulted the glass on every possession, pulling down rebounds left and right without any advanced technique beyond “just go get it.” He was the team’s best pick-and-roll defender among the bigs, even forcing P.J. Carlesimo to cross-switch Evans & Brook Lopez to cover Lopez’s deficiencies. He never took a possession off.

WATCH: Reggie Evans Highlights from the 2012-13 Season

Evans’s tenacity wasn’t just palpable — it was historic. Evans set an NBA record this season for highest defensive rebounding percentage ever with 38.7% — meaning that when Evans was on the floor, he grabbed a higher percentage of available defensive rebounds than any player in NBA history. He also set an NBA record for highest total rebounding percentage ever, minimum 50 games played.

But Evans couldn’t score (outside of his oddly semi-effective left hand near the rim), couldn’t defend players in the post two inches taller than him. Opponents shot 56% from the field against Evans in the post, a terrible number. He had an annoying habit of trying to dribble in the post that ended more often in a turnover than not. He did all the little things, both good and bad, for better and for worse.

But one of those little things was earning the starting spot — which he did, without question.

The Nets need to make upgrades this offseason, and finding a starting power forward is priority #1. Reggie Evans is not the answer as a starter. But for a few months, he carried the rebounding load, provided fans with a few unforgettable moments, and flashed the Eastern Conference’s strongest beard game. He brought the same energy every night. It’s just an energy best suited off the bench if this team wants to compete.

HIGH POINT: His night against the Portland Trail Blazers: a career-high tying 22 points and a career-high 26 rebounds.

LOW POINT: The first round of the NBA playoffs, when Evans’s egregious offensive dearth left Brooklyn scrambling for offensive spacing on a national stage, leading to more playing time for Andray Blatche in big-time stretches.

MY FAVORITE MOMENT: The free throw standing ovation. Easily. One of Barclays Center’s loudest, most fun moments.

REGGIE EVANS THE QUOTATIOUS ON RAJON RONDO: “It’s like a mosquito in your face. You’re eventually going to swat at the mosquito, right? If you let the mosquito in your face, you’re going to end up with bumps all over your face, so you have to swat the mosquito down.”

REGGIE EVANS THE QUOTATIOUS ON LEBRON JAMES: “LeBron is no different from Joe Johnson or Andray Blatche. No different.”

REGGIE EVANS THE QUOTATIOUS ON DERON WILLIAMS: “He was hot like fish grease.”

Final Grade:


Previous: Gerald Wallace Next: Brook Lopez

 
Full List:
Deron Williams | Joe Johnson | Gerald Wallace | Reggie Evans | Brook Lopez | Andray Blatche | C.J. Watson | Keith Bogans | Kris Humphries | MarShon Brooks | Mirza Teletovic | Tyshawn Taylor | Tornike Shengelia

Comments

  1. Reggie was great fun to watch this year. The rebounding was just sick at times. I think rebounding is a really important skill and watching a guy who isn’t extremely large or athletic just dominate that category was interesting. I suspect a lot of the more naturally gifted players playing PF in the league could learn a thing or two watching game tape of Reggie Evans. I certainly did.

    I continue to believe that the Nets were better with Reggie on the court than off. But frankly I never felt that PF was really a huge problem for the Nets. It was much more of an issue when basically the entire set of wing players (DWill, JJ, Bogans, and Wallace) were all shooting around 40% from the field. I know these misses are partially blamed on Reggie because he clogs the middle. But considering Lopez and Blatche have much much better range than the average NBA centers, I don’t really see why the middle of the court should be all that clogged just because Reggie doesn’t shoot jumpers. Almost every team in the league plays at least one guy who doesn’t have a jump shot, they just happen to often be at Center. How hard is it to work around a PF who doesn’t have a jumper?

    I also think the night the crowd chanted Reggie’s name during that Hack-A-Shaq strategy was one of the best nights of the season. First there was DWill and the crazy three record he set in the first half. That was awesome. And then it finished with some lighthearted encouragement of Reggie to get those free throws. And by the way Reggie had a monster 24 boards that night as well, so he deserved the applause.