Maurice Evans' Journey: Part Two

Maurice Evans' Journey: Part Two
Feb 08, 2007, 02:23 pm
Maurice Evans Interview, Part One

Eric Weiss– Well, you’ve certainly found your niche in terms of having the opportunity to build out a role for yourself with the team. I was hoping you’d talk a little more about finding opportunity in the NBA. How tough is it to stay on top of your game when you’re still waiting your turn?

Mo Evans– It’s an extremely difficult situation. Every year you’ve got young players coming in, some young player fresh out of college who is going to be given an opportunity more than likely, or Free Agents coming in. Teams are ever changing and everyone is always trying to upgrade and get the most efficient five on the floor.

I’ve been waiting my turn since I came into the NBA. This is my sixth year so I’m at the point now where I’m ready to do something, to be counted on. I’m always trying to push the envelope and show everyone that I’m here and that I’m ready.

Eric – How much does success in this league just boil down to getting a chance for a lot of guys?

Mo – Tiki Barber said it best when he said that opportunities are seldom perfect. In his commercial he talked about how he wasn’t a starter and then one day when the starter got hurt he went in and had a really big day and ended up starting since that day. I’ve had opportunities like that. For example, Kobe didn’t play all of preseason so I ended up starting all of preseason. He didn’t start the first few games of the regular season, so I ended up starting and getting off to a really nice start. I got to do it on national television and heard people saying that I was a survivor and had some skill, but I’ve been here all along.

You’ve got to stay ready and take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself. No one's going to feel sorry for you if you go out there and you don’t produce. Another thing is that people have short memories in this league. You play so many games, you can come out one night and be on point and then come out the next night and not be on top of your game. The opportunity can be gone as quickly as it was given. You’ve got to stay sharp.

Eric – It really is that thin sometimes, circumstantial. Kobe was out and you got a chance to do something. It’s still you. You’re still Maurice Evans, but Maurice Evans in this situation gets to be where you’re at now and Maurice Evans in a situation where Kobe isn’t hurt and coming off of surgery…who knows?

Mo – Exactly.

Eric – Staying with that; do you think that the NBA may be geared a little too much toward superstar potential and big time performers and maybe not as good at developing role players, guys also essential at building a championship team? As you said, there’s always a look to upgrade, but every championship team has great complementary players. It seems as if they just materialize, most of the complementary players on other teams have spent time on many teams.

Mo – I don’t think it's as difficult for a guy who’s hand-picked to be successful in this league because they get a lot of opportunity. I’m not saying it’s easy in a sense where people aren’t going to try and impose their will on them, check their stats, and make them earn anything. But for example, I don’t think every superstar could be as productive if they had to play the role of a role player, had to be productive in spot minutes with less touches and things of that nature.

I think it is important. I think that people sometimes will overlook having guys that are role players and complementary players. Say for example you’re averaging 8 or 9 points per game, that guy can be just as important if he’s coming off the bench and being consistent every night, playing defense, and staying involved. That’s not to say that the starters aren’t important at all, but the chemistry of the team is what’s most important. Teams like Phoenix and Dallas, San Antonio [have that.] Bruce Bowen is an efficient part of San Antonio’s team. He’s most likely only going to stand in the corner and shoot corner threes, but that role is important. When Duncan, Ginobili, and guys like that are cheated on, the team needs a guy that’s going to be able to knock down those shots.

My whole point of saying that was a lot of teams will reward guys who are on bad teams that aren’t making the playoffs, but guys will go out there and put up numbers because they’re getting to play. They’re not playing for anything, but they’re out there averaging 15-16 points and then they get 40 or 50 million thrown at them. When they get there they’re not productive because they’ve got to fit into a certain role and there is already a superstar there and they’ve got to find a way to fit in around him.

Eric – It seems somewhat similar to college players coming into the NBA. It must be a very difficult adjustment when you’re used to being a feature player where things are built around you and then figuring out how to readjust to a system where you are trying to fit into a system built around somebody else.

Mo – That’s exactly right.

Eric – I think from our perspective, the viewer’s perspective, it’s a star-driven league and that’s good because it makes it successful. But understanding how difficult it is to adjust and build a team where everyone knows their roles. Everyone can do more than they’re asked to do to an extent. It might not be as efficient, but for the most part, role players are doing less than their full capability. It’s about sacrificing and understanding what you do best in order to work together in a group.

Mo – Exactly.

Eric – Talk about communication on the NBA level. For a player who’s not always on the court or looking to get his opportunity, how much communication is there between coach a player? Can you walk into Phil Jackson’s office and talk with him about what you need to do to become a better player?

Mo – You can always seek advice from head coaches, but I think communication between players and coaches is overrated in the NBA. A lot of coaches expect you to be a pro and show professionalism on and off the court. They expect you to pretty much know how to execute and carry out what they want. They’re not going to baby you for long, they’ll tell you once or twice at the most and then expect you to pick it up. It’s not like it was in college where the coach would kind of coax you along. Its not the same.

Eric – Where do you find the time to put in the extra work to improve during the regular season? Where is the time to put up extra shots or study game film, whatever it is you have to do to improve if you’re not getting on the court?

Mo – I think that’s one thing that teams do a really good job at, especially here in LA. We have shoot-around pretty much every game day. We get to the gym, watch film on how the other team is going to play and their personnel. Then we’ll walk through specific plays that we’re going to want to use on a given night. Then we’ll take a break and get lunch or a quick nap and its back to the gym and on again. The coaches are great at working with the players, getting shots up, or doing whatever it is we need to work on in terms of skill development. We then watch player personnel again and go through the plays on the board again. Then its off to play the game. Since you do it so many times, day after day, you get into a rhythm and that’s when you really start to see the improvement.

Eric – I’ve got to imagine that it’s a two-way street though; a player has to attack it with a purpose.

Mo – Definitely. I think that different people take different approaches. You see that certain players are more successful at it than others.

Eric – You’re in the prime of your career. Going forward, what goals and aspirations do you have for the rest of your career?

Mo – Of course the ultimate goal is to win an NBA championship. I’ve been on a playoff contending team each and every year and have been fortunate to do so. I’ve been fortunate enough to never have a losing season and I want to continue to learn from the great players I’ve been fortunate enough to play with. I want to continue to add to my game and continue to impact the games for the team that I play for and eventually be looked at as a role player that can knock down the open shot, be relied on to box-out play in-your-face defense, those types of things. If I can continue to impact my team in that way and add to it then I can look back at the end of my career and be content with that.

Eric – Thanks a lot Maurice, this has been a really good interview. If you’ve ever got more insight you’d like to contribute, DraftExpress is always open for you to do so. I think we’ve learned a lot.

Mo – I appreciate that. Thanks for the opportunity to speak over the past few years. Take care.

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