30Q: Can Tyreke Evans Take The Next Step?

OAKLAND CA - JANUARY 21: Tyreke Evans #13 of the Sacramento Kings goes up for a shot against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 21 2011 in Oakland 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)

2011-12 Statistics:

63 Games Played, 34.3 MPG, 16.5 PPG, .453 FG%, .202 3P%, 4.6 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.3 STL, 0.5 BLK

Contract Status:

1 year, $5.3 million remaining

Expectations have a huge effect on perception, and for Tyreke Evans, expectations have been massive. His phenomenal rookie year, spawned comparisons to LeBron James, Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan. Is it any surprise that he has failed to live up to that?

Tyreke Evans is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He has finally had a full, non-injury plagued summer to prepare for the season, and expectations are once again high. Tyreke Evans will need to evolve and improve, not only to show that he has gotten better, but also so that the team gets better. As Greg said last week, Tyreke's development is incredibly important to this team.

Last season, Keith Smart threw Tyreke for a loop when he decided midway through the season to bring Tyreke off-the-ball. This was a big adjustment for a player who had always had the ball in his hands. However it was a necessary adjustment and one that Tyreke needed to make. Being able to make plays off the ball is just as important as with the ball, and sometimes more effective, since the defense isn't always as ready.

This season, it's unknown exactly what Tyreke's role will be. The addition of James Johnson could shift Evans back to the backcourt. Still, I expect we'll see a lot of the three guard lineup of Isaiah, Marcus and Tyreke throughout the season. When that happens, Tyreke needs to be ready to contribute in a meaningful way whether he has the ball or not.

Defensively, Evans also needs to become more dedicated. He has the physical tools to be a very good defender of three positions. We've seen glimpses of great defensive intensity, but only glimpses, never consistency. Evans needs to bring the same mentality to shutting his man down as he does on getting to the hoop on offense.

The development of a jumper of some consistency is also very important. As Tom pointed out, Evans jumper has only gotten worse since he's entered the league. The Kings don't necessarily need him to become a great three point shooter, but if he consistently knock down his outside shots and introduce some sort of mid-range game, it will open up the Kings offense in a big way.

If Evans doesn't show noticeable improvement this year, the Kings will have a very tough decision to make. If they let him walk, they're giving up a player of considerable talent that they are unlikely to get back in a trade or free agent signing. It would be a huge blow to the rebuilding effort to lose a player of his caliber for nothing.

For Evans' and the Kings' sakes, I hope this is the year where expectations and reality coincide.

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