SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 26: Tyreke Evans #13 of the Sacramento Kings drives on Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Power Balance Pavilion on December 26, 2011 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Tyreke Evans is struggling to deliver consistently as a point guard right now; he is averaging 2.7 assists per game. This is well below his career average (5.6), so when you get itchy on start talking about Tyreke's point guard abilities and what this team needs, you need to ask whether he's struggling this much as a point guard because of the circumstances of the team and young season or whether he's actually become half the passer he was.
The Kings are by no stretch of the imagination a great passing team; as presently constructed, it's hard to imagine that the team will end up top-10 in assisted percentage. Four of the five starters and the top reserve guard are bird dogs: one of their best offensive talents is getting their own shots. It's like the opposite of the early '00s Kings teams, where everyone had a talent to get teammates shots.
So there we are right off the top: moreso than even recent incarnations of the Kings, this is a team full of players who create for themselves, largely.
The Kings have made 101 field goals, and have 40 assists. Sure enough, that's good for a league-worst 39 percent assisted percentage. Even at that low level, there are realities that are keeping Tyreke's assist numbers down. There are all of the free throws -- the Kings are taking tons of them, and while they aren't been converted at a high level, they a) are valuable to an offense and b) don't result in assists. The Kings are shooting terribly (42 percent), something that will surely improve. A missed shot doesn't result in an assist. Sacramento was an awful shooting team last year and still hit 45 percent of shots; they are at 42 percent this season.
Here's the biggest factor in Tyreke and the Kings' slow offensive start: the Bulls finished No. 1 in defensive rating last year. The Lakers finished No. 6. Portland was No. 14, and vastly improved on that end after the Gerald Wallace trade. Let's wait until the Kings offense matches up against a few, uh, Knicks and Wolves before we start determining that Evans' 2.7 assists per game through three games means more than 5.6 over two seasons.
The unfortunate part: the early schedule is heavy on solid defending team. After the Knicks, the Kings face New Orleans, Memphis, Denver, Milwaukee, Orlando and Philadelphia. Those were all solid defensive teams last season.