Last night, Reggie Evans had a career night against the Portland Trail Blazers. Reggie had 22 points and 26 rebounds to lead the Brooklyn Nets to an easy 18-point victory. His 22 points tied a career high, while his 26 rebounds set a career high for the Nets’ starting power forward.
Although Reggie does not lead the NBA in total rebounding, he does lead the league in rebounds per 48 minutes and is arguably the best rebounder in the league. In addition to that, last night Reggie was the second leading scorer on Brooklyn, something we have not seen much from him this year as he is averaging only 4 points per game.
So how did Reggie do it, especially against two pretty good rebounders and nightly double-double threats in LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson? I’ll first talk about Reggie’s scoring, followed by his rebounding in last night’s game. Here are the ways Reggie was able to score:
Offensive rebound put-backs:
Reggie had a good number of these last night and they contributed largely to his scoring numbers. After grabbing a rebound, Reggie often does a couple of pump fakes, which work against some defenders, but many don’t fall for them. One defender who was falling for Reggie’s fakes last night was rookie Meyers Leonard. Evans got Leonard up in the air where he had no choice but to foul, sending Reggie to the line. Evans took 9 free throws last night, and many of them came off of offensive rebounds. Of course, Reggie was also blocked a couple of times with these fakes. Against good defenders who don’t jump, Reggie is very easy to block because he is relatively short, only 6’8, and is not a good jumper.
Left-handed hook shots and fakes:
Reggie had a bunch of these against Portland, especially in the Nets’ great first quarter. I don’t really understand how he is able to make these shots. First of all, he’s a righty, or at least he shoots his free throws right-handed. But Reggie seems to have a knack for lefty hook shots in the paint, and they were falling last night. Another way Reggie was scoring was simply faking out his opponents. The Blazers know that he is not one of the Nets’ main offensive weapons, so even if he has the ball in the paint, they do not expect him to shoot. Because of this, Reggie could fake a few passes and then get an easy, uncontested layup. This worked once last night against Meyers Leonard.
Scoring off passes and drives:
The biggest difference we saw in Reggie’s offensive game last night was his ability to finish around the rim off of good passes and on drives to the basket. In most games, opponents do not guard Reggie Evans very closely knowing that he probably won’t be make most layup attempts. But last night, he was finishing his looks. He was banking in layups that often would fall off the rim, leading him to shoot 9-13 from the field. Additionally, he even had a driving layup last night which we never see.
Here are the ways Reggie was able to get rebounds against Portland:
One reason why Reggie is so good at getting defensive rebounds is the fear factor he creates in his opponents. Opposing players know that offensive rebounds are a bonus and are not as important as defensive rebounds. On top of that, most people don’t want to mess with Reggie Evans when he is on the floor because of how physical he is. Many of Reggie’s defensive rebounds last night were uncontested and easy to grab. Also, because the Blazers were not contesting Reggie’s defensive rebounds, he was able to give a quick outlet pass to Deron Williams to start a semi-fast break. Although the Nets have the slowest pace in the NBA, their pace was very fast, especially in the first half, last night. Reggie’s outlets were one reason for this.
Another reason Reggie gets so many defensive rebounds is that he steals them away from teammates. He did this a couple of times last night with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. Reggie knows that he is judged by his number of rebounds, not number of points or assists like Deron or Brook. Therefore, he tries to outrebound everyone on the floor, even his own teammates.
Offensive rebounding is more of an art or skill than defensive rebounding, and Reggie might be the most skilled offensive rebounder in the league. The first thing Reggie does is establish position. Because teams are not worried about his offense, he can really go wherever he wants on the floor before a shot goes up without anybody getting in his way or stopping him.
After the shot goes up, Reggie does an excellent job of reading where the miss will go. This is something that Jason Kidd did when he was a Net and is the main reason why he had so many triple-doubles in his career. Reggie takes an educated guess about which direction and how far the ball will go off the rim on a missed shot.
Reggie’s next step is simply battling. No matter which players are on the floor, offensive rebounds are always tough because defenses hate giving up second possessions. It makes them work twice as hard. Reggie is not tall and he cannot jump very high, but one way he controls rebounds is by tipping them to himself. All he needs to do is get a fingertip on the ball before his opponent, who may be trying to grab the ball instead, which is more difficult. If Reggie can just tip the ball in his direction, he has the advantage. Once he has the rebound, he has the choice of whether to put a shot back up or pass the ball out for a reset. In most situations, a reset is the better option for a player who has Reggie’s offensive skills.
Reggie has been having the best year of his career, and March has been his best month this year. He will try to continue his great rebounding, and maybe even scoring tomorrow night when Brooklyn visits the Denver Nuggets.