It’s official: The Clippers have signed forward Reggie Evans to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.
Before we discuss Evans’ value as a player, it’s important to point something out.
Clippers VP of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey is absolutely killing it right now, and moves like this are part of the reason you go out and get Chris Paul. Reggie Evans is absolutely worth more than a veteran’s minimum contract, and surely could have received more from an under the cap type team or, heck, even an overseas club. Instead, Evans chose a cheaper deal to play for a contender. I know, weird. We’re one of those teams now.
Before the Clippers signed Evans, I wrote an article where I petitioned for the style of player the Clippers should add:
“As enticing as it may be to give Paul and Griffin some shiny new offensive toys to play with, what they really need is the basketball equivalent of getting socks for Christmas. Give Paul and Griffin the essentials with depth and defensive protection, and Clippers fans will be able to uncross their fingers a bit.”
Reggie Evans is socks. He’s a grinder defensively and a tough guy who can protect the stars on the team. His excellent rebounding (more on that in a second) is the refined area of expertise required to be a truly good role player.
Think of him like the defense and rebounding version of Craig Smith. He’s undersized but efficient, and his calling card is completely unique given his size. He’ll be a fan-favorite here in Los Angeles just like he has been everywhere else.
Although Evans is listed generously at 6-foot-8, he posted the league’s best total rebounding rate at 25.7 last season. For a reference point, Blake Griffin checked in at 18.6. That’s how good Evans is on the boards. Per-36 minutes last season, Evans grabbed 15.6 total rebounds and 5.4 (!) offensive rebounds. For his career, he’s averaged 12.8 rebounds per-36 minutes. His rebounding numbers are simply insane.
Of course, there’s a reason why Evans doesn’t warrant starter’s minutes despite his rebounding prowess. Evans is strictly a hustle player offensively, and defensively he accounts for his lack of height by smashing into things. Evans is one of the most physical and heavily whistled players in the league, and by no means whatsoever is he a rim protector, as he averages .3 blocks per-36 minutes. Evans is like a fourth-line hockey player — he’s out there to bang on people and pick up the garbage around the net. Off the bench he looks great, but if he’s a starter you’re in a little bit of trouble.
But since Blake Griffin is pretty good at the whole power forward thing, Evans can fully accept his role as a rebounder extraordinaire off the bench. Yes, the Clippers are still in desperate need of some actual size and rim protection to backup DeAndre Jordan, but Evans did not cost them in that pursuit. They used no money from their exceptions and forfeited no assets to get one of the game’s best rebounders. All it took was a roster spot.
Acquiring Reggie Evans for the veteran’s minimum is a brilliant move — one that most never even considered possible. Olshey is getting pretty good at those, isn’t he?