Sunday, January 15, 2012

THE CURIOUS CASE OF: Tyreke Evans


Felipe M

BACKGROUND--IN THE BEGINNING: When former Memphis Tigers' combo guard Tyreke Evans was selected #4 overall in the 2009 NBA draft, it was at the apex of youth basketball developing explosively quick, fast, strong, and athletic guards who can play both point and shooting guard positions at a moment's notice and the NBA's willingness to eagerly acquire these players.  The 2008 NBA draft, saw a plethora of talent at this hybrid position as 5 out of the 11 first picks of that draft were players that fit that mold of the super-fast, score-at-will guards, including future league MVP, Derrick Rose

HITTING THE BIG TIME: Evans became just the 4th rookie player in NBA history to score 20 points per game, and have 5 rebounds and assists per game, joining a very exclusive class of players who achieved that feat in their first year in the NBA--Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James.  There were even arguments that Evans might be better than Rose given his size and athleticism.  Already in his 3rd season however, and Evans' production seems to be decreasing, his basketball IQ is somewhat mediocre, and the lofty expectations that were bestowed upon him and the rest of his young teammates in Sacramento are not even close to being met.  

THE ISSUES--THE BAD: So what has been the biggest problem for this promising, but dwindling superstar?  Well, for starters, one can look at his Pre-Draft Scouting Report and see that the question marks about his game back then, are still prevalent in his third season as a pro:
  • Ball-handling skills makes one believe he can be a successful point guard, but prefers to play shooting guard--but he's a player that needs to have the ball in his hands, at all times, to be successful.
  • Loves playing a fast pace of basketball where he doesn't have to worry about calling plays.
  • Prefers playing in a system where isolation plays are designed for him.
  • His shot is still questionable, bounded by an even worse outside shot. 
  • Could be careless with the ball and does not distribute the ball enough to his teammates.
To reiterate, these are the same issues that scouts had with Evans' game that pundits are still bringing up about him to this day!  Suddenly, Evans goes from being a match-up problem at the point guard position, to being labeled a tweener in the backcourt--does not possess the court awareness to be a point guard, nor the shooting touch to be a shooting guard.

THE ISSUES--THE GOOD: Supporters of Evans will argue that despite these flaws in his game, he still has immense potential that has not been successfully tapped by an inept Sacramento Kings' franchise who: 
  • Lack veteran leadership on the roster.
  • Have drafted and/or acquired other young projects such as Jason Thompson, J.J. Hickson, Donte Greene who cannot be trusted to play heavy minutes.
  • Seemingly overstocking on similar-playing guards seemed to have hurt Evans' production having to share the ball in the backcourt with John Salmons, Jimmer Fredette, and Marcus Thornton (though Thornton proved late last season that he can complement Evans the best in the backcourt).
  • Only has another player on the current roster who can match Evans' talent in the gifted, but enigmatic DeMarcus Cousins (also a former John Calipari coached player in college).
  • Former coach Paul Westphal did not utilize Evans to the best of his abilities.
A coaching change was being begged by Evans' and Kings' fans alike with the team finally firing Paul Westphal and replacing him with Keith Smart.  Evans has seen his scoring go from 14.29/game to 19.11/game with Smart.  His rebound and assists have also seen a slight increase as well since the coaching change.  However, the team still has a losing record despite the coaching change, going 2-4 under Smart, heretofore.  

IN CONCLUSION: Tyreke Evans is still a highly gifted player with the talent and athleticism to be a superstar hybrid player in the mold of Derrick Rose: A player that can score at will from the point guard position AND create plays for others.  However, as his athleticism goes down and refuses to develop his point guard skills, learn that you don't always have to possess the ball for a majority of the time to be a dominant player, or improve his outside shot, Evans will become just another average player in the NBA.  

Pathological Hate will like to thank Dan Plotsky for contributing to this article.

To look back at the 2011 NBA DRAFT, click here.

To look back at the 2008 NBA DRAFT, click here.  

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