In Defense of Tyreke Evans

On December 29th 2008, in a game against Cincinnati, then Memphis Tigers Head Coach John Calipari moved struggling shooting guard Tyreke Evans to point guard, unleashing Evans’ phenomenal talent and potential. After his transition to PG, the Tigers would go on a 27-game winning streak, until their defeat to Missouri in the Sweet Sixteen.

At 6’6, 220lbs, Tyreke Evans isn’t built as your typical NBA point guard. However, his exuberant ball-handling ability, coupled by his formidable driving skill, took the league by storm during his rookie season, where he posted averages of 20 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. The impact of his rookie campaign was so powerful, that the only other players in NBA history to post such numbers in their respective rookie seasons are Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Oscar Robertson

Tyreke Evans - Rookie of the Year (via kingsflix)

Following his remarkable first year, ‘Reke’ has been labelled a disappointment. While foot injuries have been the primary reasons for his decline, his inability to improve on his weaknesses, especially his jump-shot, have raised questions regarding his work ethic and motor during the off-season.

Since the year 2000, six guards have captured the ROY title: Steve Francis, Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, and Kyrie Irving. According to Basketball Reference, Evans ranks last on this list (respective rookie seasons) , in field goal percentage for shots ranging 3ft from the basket all the way out to the three point line. The ‘Lay-Up King’, however, kills the competition in shots at the rim (596), with Derrick Rose second (516), and Steve Francis third with 392 attempts. In addition, we can also point out that each guard listed above, with the exception of Tyreke Evans, has been selected to participate in the All-Star Game, either in their third or second year in the league.

In his rookie season, the way he bullied his way past defenses, game after game, was a pleasure to watch. It was almost unfair towards his smaller opponents for him to demand the ball in the post. Despite his limitations away from the rim, his one-on-one game overshadowed every flaw.

Since the arrival of promising young center DeMarcus Cousins, the greatness that we witnessed in Tyreke’s rookie season has hardly been visible. Even though his scoring prowess remains, Evans’ playing position is probably on of the most head scratching dilemmas basketball world's inhabitants attempt to resolve. Let’s face it, his jump-shot needs some fixing, and he knows that. The problem is that he’s known that for almost four years and we haven’t seen results. I mean, without looking up stats, we automatically know that Rose, Irving, Roy, Paul and Francis are all better jump shooters than Evans.

The biggest question I have is, ‘At this point, does Tyreke Evans with a jump-shot really change things?’

Three years after his 20-5-5 season, the former ROY finds himself taking a backseat to the 60th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. This statement brings about this other question: ‘Does starting Isaiah Thomas at PG interfere with Evans’ growth?’ I think yes. I say this because Thomas is not considered a point guard to build a franchise upon, which is something that Evans embodies.

Now, there is no question that Isaiah Thomas has been impressive and is well deserving of his playing time, however the fact remains, 'Reke' has the higher ceiling.

There is no reason why Tyreke Evans should not make a handful of All-Star appearances and fulfill his promise.This season, he is averaging career lows in minutes, points, and assists. Despite the low numbers, his 3pt field goal percentage is at an all-time high (35%), this shows that he has been working on his outside game, and that maybe he is ready to pick up where he left off.

As a Tyreke Evans fan, I’d hate to see him underachieve. It would hurt me to constantly think of his rookie season as his only successful year in the league. Right now, his 20-5-5 season has no meaning. None whatsoever.

At this point, with the way things are going down in Sacramento, moving Tyreke to point guard couldn't possibly make things worse for the Kings. It's not like they'll make the playoff, so why not? It worked in Memphis, it might as well work now.

Follow me on twitter @TheExpert91

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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