Reggie Evans is annoying. He’s very annoying. In fact, he might be the single most annoying player in the NBA. I don’t mean that as an insult; in fact, it’s high praise, if anything.
This is a man who prides himself on being an endless irritant. He’s been known to start trouble on the court, but as anyone who watched last season’s Western Conference first-round series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies will tell you, he’s also been known to flop from time to time.
He’s a paradox in that respect; an alleged tough guy who’s all too willing to hit the floor to draw a foul. Knowing all this, it’s not hard to see why he gets on the nerves of opposing players. Annoying the other team is part of his job; he is to basketball what agitators like Sean Avery and Patrick Kaleta are to hockey. If he’s getting the best of your team, you hate his guts. But if he’s on your team, he’s your favorite player.
And now, as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, he could be a huge factor in their upcoming playoff run. Evans has become part of the Nets starting lineup and has become a major part of their identity. As the starting power forward, Evans has done the same things he usually does; grab dozens of offensive rebounds and be an endless source of frustration for all the guys wearing the other uniform. He wound up being more valuable in the starting lineup than Kris Humphries because, while Humphries has more skill and is a stronger offensive player, Evans brings more toughness. Plus, he grabs offensive rebounds at a high rate, meaning he can make up for Brook Lopez‘s struggles at grabbing boards (although, to his credit, Lopez has looked better in that area this season).
Evans has already helped the Nets since becoming a starter, but his contributions will really boost the team in the postseason. The pace of the game slows considerably in the playoffs, meaning that the presence of a big bruiser like Evans will look a bit better than in the regular season. Think of what Evans might be capable of against a team like the Miami Heat, who thrive on small ball. The pessimistic perspective would say that he’d be to slow to hang with the Heat, but his large presence in the post would certainly cause difficulties, especially when a finesse player like Chris Bosh tried to score on him.
Or consider what Evans might be able to do against Tyson Chandler if the Nets were to take on the New York Knicks. Chandler thrives because he can sneak into paint and put in countless easy layups and dunks. The presence of Evans in the paint would likely render him less effective in that area. Which is to say, he would have to actually work to score points.
Any basketball fan knows how irritating Reggie Evans can be, but his effectiveness has to be appreciated as well. He’s one of the best rebounders in the league and like it or not, being able to get under the other team’s skin is a great skill, one that can force technical fouls and other general foolishness. When the Nets picked up Evans from the Clippers, it didn’t get a lot of publicity, but it was a smart move for the team. It gave them some much needed toughness, as well as an excellent player who will succeed when the game slows to a crawl in the postseason. You can hate Evans all you want, but his value can’t be denied.