There are certain players in the NBA that fans and analysts like to pepper with the phrase "you love him if he's on your team, hate him if he's on the other". Kris Humphries has been often described as this kind of player (though he has other ways of making people hate him), as have such bruisers as Tyler Hansbrough, Anderson Varejão, and Joakim Noah. They're typically the kind of guys that aren't afraid to get dirty, may rely on a limited skillset, and often repeatedly do something that annoys opposing fans. Well, for my money, no player has better exemplified this kind of role over the past few years than Reggie Evans. So naturally, up until his joining the Nets this past off-season, I have hated Reggie Evans' guts.
To describe Reggie Evans as having a very limited skillset would perhaps even be too kind. There is one thing Evans does well and one thing only, and that's rebound. Everyone knows this; the fans know it, opposing players know, coaches know it, and Evans himself knows it, as he doesn't typically try to stray too far from that one skill. You won't see Reggie Evans hoisting ill-advised jumpers from the top of the key a la the great Johan Petro; Evans can hardly be counted on to convert a layup. But to his credit, Evans can really rebound; had he played enough minutes to qualify, Evans' offensive rebounding percentage of 15.3 last season would have ranked second in the league. And on a team employing some relatively poor rebounding bigs, having Evans come in off the bench to grab some boards will certainly benefit the Nets.
Another reason Evans falls under the "love or hate 'em" umbrella is his hustle play. Even more so than Kris Humphries, Evans does not have much else to rely on other than pure hard work, and it's evident on the court. He can also alter the outcome of a game this way, however, which the Memphis Grizzlies found out the hard way last post-season, as Evans grabbed offensive board after offensive board to keep the Los Angeles Clippers' late game hopes alive.
Actually, there are two things Evans does well; the second is flop. It's also the main reason I've hated Evans over the years. Evans doesn't just flop, he's one of the best in the game, and last year he played on what many considered to be the floppingest team in the league. If the Nets did indeed sign Evans for not only his rebounding ability but also his flopping acumen, they may have been disappointed when the NBA's new anti-flopping policies were released. Though the fines will unfortunately not be made public, I would not be surprised if Evans were to have suddenly built up enough flops to be suspended a game late in the season (it only takes six, so choose your spots wisely, Reggie!)
If it sounds like I'm being cruel to Evans, let me restate; he is a really good rebounder. There will inevitably be a time this year when he will affect the outcome of a game with his relentless crashing of the offensive boards, and I will shift into "I love Reggie Evans!" mode, now that the guy is on my team. He may not bring much to the court, but Evans also knows exactly what he should bring, and he brings it well. I look forward to hearing the "REGGIE! REGGIE!" chants in Brooklyn.