Outsider Perspective: Celtic Thoughts on Tyreke Evans

We have a guest poster today who wanted to share his thoughts on Tyreke Evans. This post is by Graham Brunell from Celtics 17. He wanted to give an outsider’s perspective on what Tyreke Evans means to the Kings. Enjoy:

Some people consider rookies roller-coaster rides. Whether their initial impression of them brings outstanding results or not, there’s always that dark ray of doubt. Sort of like a kid trying his first sandwich with tomatoes. It’s a love-hate relationship that can blossom into an impassioned exaltation (shared by only the fan of course) or plummet into a life-long disgust with (again, shared only by the fan).

But man, this kid Tyreke Evans? The dude’s got me hooked on his game. I have no question in his ability to win for his team on the court, and despite seeing the danger of his style, can’t resist pursuing the same feeling that I get watching him time after time. The best part is, he delivers, time after time. ‘Reke’s incredibly talented skills have been on display for the eye to see since day one. The only disappointment has been the general feeling that he’s just been noticed recently. In 28 games this season, Evans has only produced single-figure points just twice. Even prior to the still rather fresh Washington game that put him on the league-wide map (when he pulled a hit-and-run on Gilbert Arenas to get the game-winning theft), Evans contributed two 30-point games and 11 20-point games. He also had 11 two+-steal games going into that Wizards game.

Evans has an dream PG body-build for most coaches. Evans falls under the “charging matador” section, a perfect fit for the Kings. His graceful yet wild footwork, controlled but explosively vigorous upper body, seeking hands and arms, and ferocious mindset is a force on the court. His advanced basketball IQ and patience exhibited on the hardwood is truly amazing to watch.

That may be why Tyreke Evans is being included in both MVP and ROY discussions, being a strong candidate for both awards. The fiery youth is posting numbers such as 20.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, and 5.1 rpg. His maturity and brilliance in understanding the game is intriguing to what could be some of the deciding votes in the race to both capped-season crowns. Evans’ natural leadership has roared his Kings on a tear… Well, for Sacramento at least. The atrocity of a team this organization has put out in the past few years was putrid — but this squad, under the helm of Evans, could really mold a future core here. With young teammates around him and a window of opportunity for the future — not now — has really helped Evans in my opinion. He’s not rushed because there wasn’t much of a goal for this team to begin with, and he doesn’t have the pressure a rookie with criticizing and frustrated vets above him has. His game can progress at its own pace, and without much worthless negativity revolving around his game, the development will come on its own.

Going back to the Kings and the possibility of Evans winning the MVP, keep in mind that MVP has a distorted meaning to those who don’t follow the game — or any type of team athletics — closely. Most believe MVP to mean the most gifted player in the league, when a more accurate interpretation would be the player who has the most value to his team. The player who wins is one who is more precious to his team than anyone else in the league is to theirs.

Quite a feat for a rookie to even get mentioned as a nominee. But, it is very understandable.

Evans can literally do anything and everything on the basketball court at least with decency. More likely than not, he’s close to excelling at it. What’s his most preferable move? Obviously, going to the basket. 82games shows us that 51% of his shots are from close range. More impressively, Evans’ rampages to the bucket are only assisted 28% of the time. Even the wisest slashers of the league such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have higher percentages of an assisted drive than Evans. What caught me by surprise is that Evans slices to the lane at an extremely excessive rate — and what I mean by “extremely excessive” is “you blow by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in that statistic.” He favors the bucket with morbid.

Evans also has a pretty good jumpshot, and he utilizes it too. ‘Reke rises up for a J 47% of the time, and once again, he does it by himself. Only 13% of his jumpers are served with a dime. That’s outrageous. Absurd. And it also means that Tyreke Evans is astonishingly ingenious at creating for himself. He draws in shot opportunities with much more ease than a typical rook does.

But what’s the downfall of him reeling in all these unassisted scoring sprees? Even successful stars like James and Bryant don’t go a game with that poor (or ignored) help. The answer is, balance. James and Bryant rarely suffer major injuries because, like Evans, they have extraordinary body builds. But even at 6’6″, 220 pounds, Evans will never sustain his physique without suffering substantial wear and exhaustion. There’s a reason that Bryant and James — especially James, in this case, because of his own preference to driving — still are noticeably present in this league. Those two take even the least versatile of teammates and turn them into productive machines. If Evans doesn’t figure that out in the next few years, there’s a strong chance of consequences.

Another hypothetical guess of how this could hurt Evans? For one, teammates don’t like an “I’ll do everything” player on their team all the time, and ultimate success isn’t friendly with that type of game too. A living example of this has been Allen Iverson, who has yet to win a championship because of that very same demeanor. While Evans is FAR more connecting and communicative with his teammates than Iverson ever was or is now, Iverson proved it to us that players like that don’t have a wide variety of teams that will fit them. Iverson had a strict team format, and if everything wasn’t up to standard, the squad was done. It’s just not possible to not involve your guys in getting the job done and expect to win.

Passing and rebounding are also in Evans’ arsenal. ‘Reke has had double-digit games in both stats, including 12 games where Evans had 7+ of one or both statistics. While that is quite a rare find in guards, and can be very useful and handy to have on your side, there’s also individual pitfalls there as well. We’ve seen LeBron James and Jason Kidd do it. Rajon Rondo is doing it now. But the fact is, they’re more apt to put themselves at this type of risk because their bodies are more compensating for their size. Evans is a bull, as I said, and still has a fascinating muscular build, don’t get me wrong — but LeBron is 30 pounds heavier and only two inches taller, and Kidd is two inches shorter and just 10 pounds lighter. Rondo has long arms and can just reach in and grab the ball a lot of the times instead of having to get bruised around. And the fact is, we STILL worry about James’ and Rondo’s future health. Just for emphasis — this is LBJ, whose physicality seems rock solid even despite all the beating he’s taken since getting drafted. As for Kidd, he’s already begun a rather steep decline (89% of the shots Kidd takes are jumpers, which is an indication that his body is too banged up to get in the paint much anymore aside from a few good rebounds).

Sticking to the present though, this part of Evans’ game really bolsters his MVP/ROY candidacy (right now at least). Because of his broad repertoire, comparisons of Magic Johnson and LeBron James have already risen from the surface so far this season. Voters aren’t going to omit such connections in a tight race like this — if Blake Griffin can get off hot when he returns from his injury (I still don’t think he’ll win, just because he’s missed so much time, but there’s not doubt he’ll contest for the trophy), it’s going to be a dead-lock race between Griffin, ‘Reke, and Brandon Jennings. And that’s exactly what I think will put ‘Reke on top. His proficiency for all aspects of the game is certainly one thing that will be crucial — but it’s his immediate adaptations from the college game to the NBA, and his instant impact on his team that brought him to this level. What that allowed him to do was flourish to the ceiling of the game he has today, which will undoubtedly improve.

Not only does two players whose games are commonly held in high respect (we know how I feel about the fan relationship with LBJ himself) help Evans, but two players from different eras. It will draw the attraction of today’s audience as well as the audience from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. This will bring huge support for Evans.

At the end of the day, Tyreke Evans is legitimately one of the most valuable to his team, no question. And under the guidance of COY candidate (this Sacramento team is becoming the OKC Thunder 2.0) Paul Westphal, his basketball game and ability to make decisions will further prosper as well. Right now though, Tyreke Evans does have some thunder to his game.

Will lightning come after the roll?


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