Foot Injury Sidelines N.B.A.ís Top Rebounder
By ROB MAHONEY
Torontoís Reggie Evans, now injured, was the leagueís top rebounder this season.
Weeks ago, Justin Kubatko noted the rebounding excellence of the Toronto Raptorsí Reggie Evans in this space, as Evansí rebounding ethic is obscured by more conventional rebounding measures, but is resplendent under the light of more detailed statistics. Evans is still third in the league in rebounds per game, even though rebound percentage Ė- a percentage estimate of the rebounds a player grabbed while they were on the floor Ė- shows the Raptorsí forward to be far and away the most efficient rebounder in the league. When the noise from pace factors and varying opportunities are wiped clean, Evans is the leagueís indisputable best on the boards.
Or at least he was the leagueís indisputable best on the boards.
Evans suffered a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during the Raptorsí loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday, and there is no specified timetable for his return. Itís a shame, because not only was Evans the top rebounder in the league this season, but his year is worthy of an all-time label.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Evans is grabbing a whopping 26.4 percent of all rebounds during his time on the floor this season, 35.3 percent of all available defensive rebounds and 18.2 percent of all available offensive boards. Each measure is enough to lead the N.B.A., but to fully appreciate how prolific of a rebounder Evans has been, itís best we put these numbers in a historical context.
Only four times in N.B.A. history has a player posted a total rebounding percentage greater than 26 percent in at least 400 minutes played. The first three were accomplished by the brilliantly infamous Dennis Rodman, who pulled off the feat for each of his first three teams: the Detroit Pistons, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Chicago Bulls. The fourth such season currently belongs to Evans.
Similarly, only three times in N.B.A. history has any player had a defensive rebounding percentage greater than 35 percent in 400 or more minutes played. The first two occurrences are predictably Rodmanís, with Evansí current campaign in third.
Itís been a monumentally successful season for Evans on the boards, which understandably sparks curiosity why he hasnít done it in previous seasons. Evans has always been an effective rebounder (itís his only marketable N.B.A. talent), but this yearís marks eclipse his previous career highs.
The simple answer? He plays for the Raptors.
Torontoís best rebounders (Evans, Amir Johnson, and Joey Dorsey) have such redundant skills that they rarely take the floor together. Given the miserable rebounders that span the rest of the Raptorsí roster (newly acquired point guard Jerryd Bayless currently ranks fourth on the team in total rebounding percentage), Evans is free to feast on the available boards. Itís still impressive that a 6-8, athletically-limited forward manages to dominate so thoroughly on the glass, but thereís no question his teammates play a role in his numbers.
Rob Mahoney is an obsessive student of professional basketball, dedicated to the minutiae, the overarching themes and everything in between. You can read more of his work at TheTwoManGame.com, HardwoodParoxysm.com and ProBasketballTalk.com.