Mo Evans has had to fight for everything he has gotten in his NBA career. This season likely will be no different for the Hawks' reserve swingman, who is firmly entrenched on the roster but still a bit unsure about his role in coach Mike Woodson's playing rotation.
Where he fits, though, is far less important to Evans. Because after years of scrapping to prove his doubters wrong as an undrafted free agent, he appears to have found a niche as the Hawks' "utility man" --- a player capable of filling in whenever and wherever he is needed.
"I'm really excited to be in the plans," Evans said. "I really do feel like I'm in the fold. And yeah, we're a deep team, but that goes into me being effective out there on the floor because it's going to take all of our collective talents to go far. We learned that last year.
"As talented as we were, when we got into the [Eastern Conference semifinals] against Cleveland and guys were banged up, we ran on empty. We didn't have enough firepower. So hopefully the extra depth is what pushes us over the top this time around."
Evans knows what extra depth can do for a team. He has played in 45 playoff games, including 18 starting assignments, over the past five seasons. He was a starter for Orlando two seasons ago and started in eight of 11 playoff games for the Hawks last season. Before that he saw action with the Pistons, Lakers and Kings.
The common denominator on those teams, Evans said, was the way their talent and depth was used, and Evans cemented his role as a true "utility" man in the eyes of many.
"I think that's an excellent way to describe Mo and what he gives you," Woodson said. "He's capable of doing a lot of different things. And he's a vet, so he knows that his role might change from night to night, and he knows that he has to be ready no matter what."
Evans has played many roles during his seven seasons in the league. The one thing he has never been asked to do consistently is score at a rapid clip, though he insists he's capable of that, too. After watching him pile up 27 points in just 26 minutes last week against Memphis, there's no reason to doubt him.
"It's tough to wear so many different hats," said Evans, one of the nation's top 10 scorers as a sophomore in college at Wichita State. He later transferred to Texas. "Obviously, the most fun you have in this game at any level is scoring points. And I was one of the top scorers in the country in college, so having that mentality coming into the league and then hearing that if I wanted to play I had to stop somebody, was sort of a shock.
"But I learned a long time that you have to earn your time in this league if you want it. That's why I think it's a credit to players like myself that can be versatile and adapt to almost any situation and make yourself useful to your team."