Last week, we discussed the difference between specialists and jack-of-all-trade players. This week, let's focus on the guys who can point to a specific skill and say, "That's what I do -- that's my thing." These are the best specialists in the NBA.
To clarify, these players are not ranked according to who's the best player (although the order generally leans in that direction). Rather, the rankings are based on each player's ability to impact the game despite having lower-than-normal usage rates (USG% less than 20 percent). Here's our ranking of the NBA's top 10 specialists:
2012-13 USG%: 8.6 percent | Specialty: rebounding
Evans has survived in the NBA by having an incredible knack for corralling rebounds and a willingness to do what's necessary to win, whether it's legal or illegal. Perennially one of the league's premier rebounders (on both ends), he ranks in the top 20 in rebounds per game despite playing less than 20 minutes a game. This hyper-productivity on the glass translates to a league-leading defensive rebounding percentage (DRB%) of 34.5 percent, but perhaps even more incredible is that this season he is on pace to have the lowest USG% of his career at 8.6 percent. Using 8.6 percent of your team's possessions during your court time is just short of being an innocent bystander, and indeed Evans routinely passes up wide-open layups to reset the offense.