First, here is the reaction taken by Andrew Nicholson as he gets Geoff Petrie’s reaction to the pick of Tyreke Evans:
Throughout the draft process, there were doubts all around the prospects that worked out for the Kings. There was debate as to who was not only the better player but who was also the correct player to grab with the fourth pick in the draft. Essentially, that decision came down to four possible players – Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, and Stephen Curry. And at times, it felt like it was simply going to come down to Tyreke Evans and Ricky Rubio (if he fell to four) after the Memphis point guard dominated his last two big workouts (in Minnesota and Sacramento).
And Thursday night, that’s exactly what the decision came down to – Ricky Rubio or Tyreke Evans? The two picks couldn’t have been more different than what the Kings decided to choose between. Rubio was the international phenom who had been playing professional ball since he was 14 years old. He was crafty with the ball, a proven passer, and a guy that had proved himself against the top point guards in the world during the Beijing Olympic Games. Evans on the other hand was the slow talking, non-flashy point guard from the University of Memphis. He was big, powerful, and imposing. He was tough, strong, and forceful on the court. He wasn’t a proven point guard by any means but he was quite possibly the best overall player available to the Kings.
And that lead to the philosophical question of do you draft for need or the best player available? There is never a clear-cut answer. Sometimes the need is so great that it’s the right way to go. Imagine Chris Paul on the Hawks instead of Marvin Williams. And sometimes the better player is far more successful than the needed position. Imagine Ron Artest with Kevin Garnett instead of William Avery. So the Kings had to decide if a purer point guard in Ricky Rubio with a flair for showing flair and the potential to be a great leader and distributor was a better option than a powerful, big combo guard who could create matchup problems for the defensive team thanks to his physical prowess and style of play.
The decision was made with Tyreke Evans as the newest member of the Sacramento Kings and it brought about mixed emotions and feelings. I honestly thought that Ricky Rubio was the best-case scenario for the team. He seemed to be perfect for guys like Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes to develop. He seemed to be a great guy to put alongside Kevin Martin to get him open, easier shots. He seemed to be the smartest business decision with instant national exposure surely to come and international interest after that. But in the end, the Kings didn’t feel like he was tough enough and that Tyreke Evans was the best player now, five years from now, and ten years from now.
And you know what? Geoff Petrie is probably right about all of this. The Kings biggest problem for years was having a glitz and glamour squad that made offense look easy and fun while defense was the great divide. Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic, and Mike Bibby were fantastic to watch for 46 minutes until it came down to the last two critical minutes of the game in which a defensive stop was rarely seen and a metaphorical punch to the mouth was usually taken without retaliation. The Kings were soft both physically and in spirit. When the team began to deteriorate and Ron Artest was brought aboard, he tried to bring toughness to an organization that wasn’t ready for it and ill equipped to support such bravado.
So the team was pieced together here and there, fell apart do to some softness and questionable coaching and it resulted in a 17-win season with the fourth pick in the draft. The Kings clearly decided it was time for a change in philosophy and culture. They grabbed a veteran coach who has been there before. And now they’ve grabbed the player to match the toughness and offensive attack that go along with that coach. Tyreke Evans means no more moments of the Kings point guard being abused on either side of the ball. From now on, the Kings are the enforcer at the point for 48 minutes. From now on, the Kings are going to be tougher and more physical with their opponents. Shots to the mouth will be responded to. There will be no complaining to the refs like in the Brad Miller era. There are only retorts.
The Kings are now about creating havoc for the other team on offense and being able to take the opponent’s best shot on defense. I definitely was disappointed after the pick was announced. I thought it was a missed opportunity to bring some life back into the franchise with another Jason Williams-type of leader. But that couldn’t have been a more correct decision by the Maloofs and Petrie. They’ve had that style of basketball before. They’ve had the glamour and the show. This is a new era of Kings basketball. This is no longer a Vegas show on the hardwood. This is tough, hard-nosed basketball.
And Tyreke Evans is the posterboy of this new brand in Sacramento.