Tyreke Evans will be named the NBA's 2009-10 Rookie of the Year later this week, Sactown Royalty has learned.
The announcement is expected Thursday or Friday. The Kings nor the NBA have announced Evans's victory, and the team has not yet alerted the media of a press conference later this week.
Evans, of course, became the first rookie since LeBron James to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. He was a major factor in the Kings improved from 17 wins in 2008-09 to 25 wins this season. He started every game he played, and lead all rookies in points per game (20.1), minutes per game (37.2) and Win Shares (5.4). He finished second in assists per game (5.8, behind Stephen Curry's 5.9), fifth in rebounds per game (5.3, behind big men Taj Gibson, DeJuan Blair, Jonas Jerebko and Serge Ibaka), second in steals per game (1.5, behind Curry) and second in PER (18.2, behind Rodrigue Beaubois's 18.5).
Evans led the entire NBA in average shot attempts at the rim with 8.4 per game. He tied LeBron James for the league lead in average makes at the rim per game with 5.0.
Evans had been challenged for the R.O.Y. crown by Curry, Golden State's star point guard, and Brandon Jennings of Milwaukee. Curry hit unprecedented shooting marks in his first season, and finished in the NBA top 10 in both three-point makes and three-point percentage. Jennings scored 55 points in a November game against the Warriors, and started all season for the East's No. 6 seed. His shooting percentage tanked as the season wore on, however, and coach Scott Skiles frequently gave him a quick hook in favor of veteran Luke Ridnour.
The award is voted on by 123 members of the media, including newspaper beat writers and columnists, play-by-play announcers and some radio and web personnel.
The Kings are believed to have employed a fairly standard promotional campaign to secure votes for Evans, having reportedly sent bobbleheads and media kits featuring Evans's stat line to voters across the nation. The Kings also hosted "RekeROY Night" at ARCO Arena, sold t-shirts promoting Evans's chase of the 20-5-5 mark, and worked with the Sacramento Bee to put out a four-part collectible poster. As Evans closed in on 20-5-5, the chase became a big part of the Kings' in-house broadcasts, with a "Reke-o-Meter" on the screen showing fans how many points, rebounds and assists Evans needed to reach his mark.
The Warriors' campaign for Curry wasn't as public, but was quite in-depth when it came to attempting to sway voters. Golden State PR personnel are believed to have contacted nearly every voter outside of Sacramento by phone or e-mail (or in some cases both) with a detailed case for Curry based primarily on his shooting efficiency, his five games with at least 30 points and 10 assists and his improved numbers over the second half of the season. In the pitch, Golden State boasted that although Evans won the rookie scoring title by a substantial distance (20.1 to 17.5), if you only count Curry's numbers after December 31, he would averaged (21.1 points). Evans averaged just over 20 points per game from January on.
In contacting voters immediately after Golden State's regular season finale against the Blazers, in which Curry racked up 42/9/8 against a team sitting Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby, Warriors PR boss Raymond Ridder told voters that if they had already voted for Evans or Jennings, they could still contact the NBA to change their vote to Curry.
Evans is the first King during the Sacramento era to win Rookie of the Year. The last King to win a major individual award was Bobby Jackson, who was named the league's Sixth Man of the Year for the 2002-03 season.