Michael Scotto, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — Reggie Evans and rebounding go together like Michelangelo and a paintbrush. Both are brilliant masters of their art. In fact, dictionaries could list Evans as a synonym for rebounding.
As of Nov. 27, Evans is the best rebounder in the NBA according to numerous advanced statistics.
Evans ranks first in defensive rebounding percentage (37.43) and total rebounding percentage (26.74). In addition, Evans ranks first in defensive rebounds per 48 minutes (15.25) and total rebounds per 48 minutes (22.08).
In five previous games dating back to November 20th, including three Brooklyn victories, Evans snatched 56 rebounds in a total of 96 minutes played. That amounts to 11.2 rebounds per game in only 19.2 minutes per game.
During the recent stretch coach Avery Johnson, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson spoke highly of Evans.
“Reggie Evans was big for us tonight in a lot of different ways,” said coach Johnson after a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 23. “This is a Reggie game. You know just rebounding, he makes a lot of contact, and he’s physical.”
Joe Johnson elaborated on the “different ways” Evans can affect the outcome of a ball game.
“I love being in a game with Reggie because he works so hard and he gets you open,” said Johnson. “He’ll tell you, ‘man come off my side I’m going to set a good pick to where you can get open.’ So anytime I’m in the game I always talk to him and he’s very talkative to where he really lets you know what’s going on. He’s a great guy to have as a teammate.”
Brooklyn feeds off the energy of Evans and, through Nov. 27, is 4-1 when Evans grabs over 10 rebounds in a game.
For his $1.6 million salary, Evans is a bargain thanks to his work on the glass and ability to do “dirty work.” Not all NBA players like to mix it up on the interior, box out bigger players, hustle and dive for loose balls, and set screens to free up scorers like Johnson and Williams.
In these areas, Evans thrives.
The Brooklyn crowd has begun chants of “Reggie” at Barclays Center to honor his hardnosed style of play.
“It’s cool and it just shows they appreciate blue-collar players and hard work,” said Evans. “Sometimes you don’t have to be a scorer or the franchise player to get that from the crowd. That just shows that they appreciate a hard worker.”
The Nets’ franchise player also appreciates the rugged style of play Evans brings to the court every game. Williams spoke glowingly of Evans when asked about the contributions the rugged forward has brought to the team.
“Just toughness and rebounding,” said Williams. “He’s great on defense. Reggie, you can just tell, he’s a fan favorite. He works hard. He’s a hard worker, that’s his game. Just coming out and outworking guys, getting to the rebounds, getting to the loose balls, getting under guys skin on defense, and he does a great job of that.”
I asked Evans to explain the art of rebounding and if he’s learned any valuable tips over the years to become an elite rebounder.
“I don’t think you can really teach rebounding to be honest with you,” said Evans. “Like, you can teach shots or teach free throws. It’s just got to come from within, having heart, and just wanting to do it.”
Although Evans portrayed rebounding as a skill that comes naturally, the 6-foot-8 forward also stressed a workmanlike mentality and sense of pride as keys to becoming an elite rebounder.
“Just go get it,” said Evans. “No excuses. You’ve just got to go get it, find a way. Some guys can jump higher than me and are more athletic than me, but you can’t have any excuses. You’ve got to go out there and just do what you’ve got to do.”
That workmanlike mentality has allowed Evans to carve out a niche in the league and earn a roster spot for the past 10 seasons.
This season, that same mentality has helped him steal minutes from Kris Humphries down the stretch and earn the trust of coach Johnson.
Michael Scotto is an Analyst for SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter for the latest news from Brooklyn and the NBA: @MikeAScotto