During this past offseason, when the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers swapped Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans, it looked like a minor move that help fill general needs for both teams – the Sixers were dying for outside shooting and the Raptors were looking to add some toughness and rebounding to the mix.
Now that camps have officially opened, we’re seeing that Raptors seemed to have a specific role in mind for Evans when they acquired him – to beat the hell out of Andrea Bargnani.
The Raptors are committed to Bargnani and his awesome potential, so much so, they signed him to a $50 million extension. But if there are glaring omissions to Bargnani’s game, you could argue that he leaves much to be desired in the rebounding and toughness departments. The career high of 5.4 boards Andrea averaged per game last year are ok for a guy a who spends much of his time on the perimeter, but for him to become the franchise-caliber athlete he needs to be for the Raptors to excel – and survive if they lose Chris Bosh – he has to be much, much better.
Enter Reggie Evans. This from today’s Globe and Mail:
He had his first impact before training camp even started in an informal scrimmage last week at the Air Canada Centre when he gave Bargnani a dose of mid-season nasty. Bargnani took note and came back a day later with a sense of purpose to the delight of those who watched.
“They went at it pretty hard,” said Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, who acquired Evans from the Philadelphia 76ers for Jason Kapono in June. “The first day . . . by the end of it [Bargnani] was like a punch-drunk prize fighter. He looked like he was exhausted. It was fighting on the glass; it was trying to exert more energy on the offensive end because he had someone defending him – whether it was at the three-point line or inside – with physical force.
“I saw him come back the next day with a little different approach and he was more prepared for it. I said wow, if that’s any indication of how Reggie is going to make others on the floor better, it happened in 24 hours.”
I know that you can’t make somebody tough. You can make a player tougher, but true grit is something you’re born with. Still, if having to deal with Reggie Evans on a daily basis makes Bargnani more aggressive and more comfortable really selling out attacking the glass, it could put Bargnani on the path to being an elite player.