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The True Potential of Tyreke Evans

Just as I finished writing a column about all of us showing patience and not prematurely anointing Tyreke Evans as our savior, I had a sudden realization about his true potential with the Kings.  Please forgive my hypocrisy.

We've talked a lot about Tyreke's potential as an individual player.  In summer league he demonstrated an ability to drive into traffic, create contact, and create shots.  He spent a lot of time at the free throw line.  It may have only been summer league, but he demonstrated skills that have a good possibility of translating to the regular season. 

But we have not focused on the most important part of this potential.

We've talked about how Tyreke and Kevin Martin create match-up problems for opposing teams, and how they can be a very formidable back court.  You've got a lights-out shooter with the ability to get to the line, and he's paired with a dynamic scorer who may also have the ability to visit the stripe with some frequency.  If these two can learn to play well off of each other, the Kings could have something special.

But we've still failed to focus on the most important part of this potential.

We've talked about who his game reminds us of.  We've drawn comparisons to the violent manner in which he attacks the lane, and how it reminds us of LeBron.  Nobody has tried to say that Tyreke will be LeBron, but that aspect of the game is reminiscent.  We've talked about how Dwyane Wade might also be an apt comparison, at least in terms of driving the lane.  When we've discussed these comparisons, we're thinking of what could someday be.  We're thinking of what Tyreke could become. 

But even with such lofty comparisons, we're still not focused on the most important part of Tyreke's potential.

The most important aspect of Tyreke Evans' potential is the potential to elevate Sacramento to the status of a desirable destination once again.  Now please hold your groans and hear me out (Hear me out?  Read me out?  Whatever).  This is not a "Summer of 2010" story.  I've said before that I don't see the Kings landing one of the "big names" in 2010.  It's just not a very realistic goal.  But Tyreke Evans could help this become a team that free agents want to play for. 

Carlos Boozer recently stated that his preferred trade destination would be Miami.  The reason, of course, is to play with Dwyane Wade.  Once again, I don't want to be mistaken for saying that Evans will become Wade.  He'll be his own player, but he could become a similar draw.  You can never ignore the drawing power of huge piles of money, but would Toronto have still been able to snatch Hedo Turkoglu away from Portland if they didn't also have Chris Bosh?  Tyreke Evans could mean Sportscenter highlights, and not just highlights of players scoring against the Kings.  He could mean the Kings getting positive national attention again. 

The counter argument, of course, is that it takes a lot to change a city's stigma.  Ask Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.  But Sacramento has overcome that stigma before.  This is a franchise that shown it can build a good team.  Say whatever else you want about the Maloofs, but we have engaged owners.  We have team management that has a good reputation.  What has been lacking recently is the drawing power that exciting players bring.  I like Kevin Martin as much as the next guy, but his game is efficient.  It isn't flashy, particularly not last season.  Evans has an effective game that will also generate some highlights.  His game is exciting.

When we've looked back at better times, we often point to Vlade Divac choosing to come to Sacramento as a pivotal turning point on the road to becoming a good team.  Obviously Tyreke Evans was drafted to play here, but he also has demonstrated a desire to play here.  At this point it is too early to tell if this is totally genuine or just a young player saying the right things.  But if Tyreke's presence can inspire other free agents to consider Sacramento as a viable destination, it will be a major turning point in this rebuilding process, just as it was when Divac signed and the Kings traded for Webber.  If he can do that, he'll be realizing his full larger potential as a Sacramento King.