Reggie Evans

Reggie Evans’ value to the 2010-11 Toronto Raptors is difficult to deny — the Raptors are 9-13 when he plays and 11-37 when he doesn’t — so it might seem like a no-brainer that they should attempt to re-sign him to a reasonable contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season. I prefer to actually use my brain when I consider these options, so let’s determine how Reggie fits in with the future of this team.

There may not be another player in the NBA whose game is easier to break down than Reggie’s. He’s a phenomenal rebounder, a willing but limited defender, and an absolutely atrocious offensive player. If you dispute any of these descriptions, you haven’t watched him play for at least 10 minutes. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to overstate how incredibly great he is at rebounding and how astonishingly bad he is offensively.

Basketball-Reference.com defines Total Rebounding Percentage (TRB%) as “an estimate of the percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor.” Their statistic requirement to qualify for the career TRB% rankings is a minimum of 5,000 rebounds — Reggie has 3,895 career rebounds so he doesn’t qualify yet. Only three qualifying players have or had career TRB% of over 20 percent: Dennis Rodman (23.44%), Dwight Howard (20.90%) and Swen Nater (20.85%). Evans’ career TRB% is 21.0, which would rank him second all-time since the 1970-71 season when Basketball-Reference starts tracking this stat. In layman’s terms, this means he isn’t just one of the most effective rebounders in the game, he’s one of the all-time greats. Although it’s in a small sample size of 596 minutes, his 26.5% rate this season is his career-best and has only been topped by Rodman (twice) in the past 40 seasons, with a 500-minute minimum.

So he’s an elite rebounder, we all know this. Now, let’s look at his offense. He’s only taken 70 field goal attempts this season and he’s made 27 of them for a dismal .386 field goal percentage. When you break down his shooting numbers by distance from the basket, you really get a sense of how limited his offensive game is: according to hoopdata.com, he’s 23-for-48 on the season around the rim and 4-for-22 from three feet away and beyond. Basically, he should never shoot unless he’s directly under the basket. Since the league average FG% for shots around the rim is 64.5%, Reggie’s 47.9% success rate is comparatively poor even from that range.

82games.com measures the effect Reggie has on the Raptors’ offense when he’s on the floor — they’ve scored 5.1 fewer points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor compared to when he’s on the bench. Comparatively, they allow 0.2 points more per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor, so his effect on team defense appears to be a wash. With this in mind, his rebounding doesn’t appear to cancel out the significant flaws in his game.

I have no doubt that Reggie Evans has a place as a ninth or 10th man on an NBA team — he does one thing very, very well and he’s made it this far with that one skill. But where does he fit in on a rebuilding team that needs to develop its young players? Based on the evidence at hand, does it really make sense to keep him around to take minutes away from Amir Johnson and Ed Davis?

Reggie’s a good guy and a fan favorite and I know that many Raptors fans would be sad to see him go. But when you consider his pros and cons, the state of this franchise, and the fact that his injury history makes him an extremely risky investment, the $3-4 million per season he’ll probably earn on his next contract would be better used elsewhere on the Raptors.

Comments (17)

  1. He may take away a few minutes from Ed Davis, but with that being said he could also serve a greater purpose of being a good teacher to Ed in terms of teaching him foot work and skills. I’d say offer him 1.5 million per season and sign him to a one or two year contract. Also it maybe important to also point out the fact that Reggie Evans has one of the highest defensive basketball IQ’s I’ve ever seen.

  2. @TrueTorontoFan: I’d be fine with paying him $1.5 million/season as a PF who almost never plays unless Amir or Ed are injured, but why would he accept that offer? He can probably get that or more elsewhere on a team that would let him play more and might actually play in the post-season. Reggie likes Toronto, but not that much. As long as the Raptors intend to hang on to both Amir and Ed, it makes more sense to re-sign Joey Dorsey as a third PF for around the minimum since he has a similar skillset to Reggie.

  3. I’d let him walk. The money is better spent in more prodoctive ways and the injuies to his feet / ankles are worrisome.

  4. I can’t imagine BC is dumb enough to re-sign Reggie. Although I would not be at all surprised if Triano (who has no business coaching this team) gets on his hands and knees and begs BC to keep Reggie. Triano will then bench Ed Davis for the entirety of next season, ride Reggie and Barbosa to 9th-place in the East, and then explain to the media that we just-missed the playoffs because the team is “young” and “inexperienced.”

  5. Whether it’s communication or just infectious hustle, Reggie makes this team’s defense go. IF BC is dead set on keeping Bargnani as a major minute guy, Reggie is the perfect fit.

    That’s no knock against Amir or Davis, but their skills sets are just different and they’re not talkers… Best case scenario, they all stay until Davis’ rookie contract is up. Even at upwards of 3mil/year for Reggie.

  6. I like Reggie but he has real health issues. Can probably make more South border and I wish him well. Has played very little 2 years in a row and the right thing would be to sign with a contender.

  7. Love Reggie but I agree with all these other posters. We’d be better off with Dorsey as a 3rd PF considering the price Reggie will probably come in at. Let him go to a contender. Hell, he can take Barbosa with him.

  8. The team needs a bruising big and Amir and Ed don’t qualify though I like them both. I’m fine if Reggie doesn’t come back but it depends on who replaces him. I don’t understand why Dorsey wasn’t given more PT this year since he looked pretty decent in most of the games I saw him play in. He’s undersized (like Reggie) but he is a better shot blocker and finisher around the rim. He barely played even with Reggie out, so what are the chances he’s back?

  9. Scott, be interested to read your take as to how the Raps win approx 45% of their games this year with Reggie in the line-up while only win approx 25% of the games with him out – but yet as you point out they score less with him on the floor and also defend slightly worse. This seems counter intuitive to me. I think it may speak to some of the immeasurable intangibles that Reggie also brings to the table which sites like 82 games have a hard time quantifying. The Raptors have had a few of these guys over the years who just seem to put a team in a better position to win games, Oakley and Garbahosa come to mind. Understand that Reggie has some injury concerns, but with Bargnani in the line-up it likely doesn’t hurt to have a historically bad rebounder counterbalanced by say 20 minutes a game from a historically great rebounder.

  10. @Ian: Reggie fans might say that he inspires his teammates to play better with his hustle. This may or may not be true, but it’s certainly not provable. And truly good players don’t need to be inspired to play hard by a teammate who actually fights for rebounds and dives for loose balls. (Not naming names… ahem.)

  11. this is *completely* unrelated…but it does involve former-Raptor Garbajosa…

    best finale ever.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zijh7EAAH6g

  12. When Reggie plays and hustles, the ACC chants his name and gets out of their seats. That is why the Raps will resign him. Nothing to do with numbers.

    I say he resigns for 3 yrs $10 mill.

    Is that a good thing? No. Basically he is resigned to counter Bargnani’s indifference to rebound or play defense.

    And dont forget JYD as one of our hustle guys that make the team play harder.

  13. Something doesn’t sit right with me about your analysis. When Evans is on the floor he is grabbing rebounds — which means that the other team isn’t getting the ball. (You might say that if Reggie wasn’t getting them, then another Raptor would, but I think we can agree that that’s questionable in many situations). So he’s either preventing the other guys from getting an extra possession when he gets a DR, or giving Toronto a second opportunity when he pulls down an OR. So although the Raptors score less per 100 possessions when he is on the floor, it may also be true (worth checking) that they have more total possessions in games when he plays than when he doesn’t.

  14. I’d vote to re-sign Evans and keep him for another while. The good example that he sets is more valuable, I think, than what a lot of fans figure and that stats can probably show. Having a guy who can go out and have the kind of impact that he often has – like the way he straightened out Perkins the other night, for example – can mean a lot to a young team … and especially (maybe) to an organization that’s been thought of as being as perennially soft as the Raptors have. When he’s out there, the other team is well aware of it … in a good way, for us.

  15. There are good points to both re-sign him and to just let him walk. It a though one. I think they might try to re-sign him but its gonna be about the money. The Raptors will probably tender him an offer just to please the fans but hopefully it is far below market value and Evans might take it seeing as he likes Toronto so much. Still very tough question to answer.

  16. mark: You make a good point about the extra possessions provided by Reggie’s rebounding, but Joey Dorsey averages the same number of rebounds per 36 minutes in his career, he’s 2 years younger and he could be probably be signed for the minimum. Why not just keep Dorsey around as a rebounding specialist and the third PF? Dorsey at least has a half-decent touch around the basket and can block the occasional shot.

  17. It is the Kaman cookie jar effect that makes everyone play harder. Don’t forget Reggie got voted for the player NBA players like the least to play against.

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