NBA Position: PG
General Information: 20 years old sophomore, played for Oklahoma State. From Simpsonville, SC.
Measurables: 5’11", 185 lbs, 6’5.5" wingspan, 7'11" standing reach, 27.5’ no step vertical, 33.5’ max vertical.
2016-17 Season Statistics: 19.2 PPG, 6.4 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 2.8 TOPG (32 games played, 29.3 minutes a contest) – 43.8% FG, 81.2% FT, 37.9% 3P
The leader of the non-lottery tier of point guards, Evans led a lackluster Oklahoma State team to NCAA tournament berth with excellent efficiency. His passing and court awareness are both excellent, but his scoring ability at the NBA level is less of a sure thing and his lack of size will limit him on defense.
If it wasn't for Lonzo Ball's generational-talent court vision, Evans would be the class' best passer; he finished with a stellar 43.6% assist rate with 8.7 assists per 40 minutes. He's creative, poised, and adaptive to the defense. His 2.2/1 assist-to-turnover ratio is solid if unspectacular, but his 13.8% turnover ratio is mightily impressive for a guy who dominated control of the ball (32.7% usage rate).
Evans ran the pick and roll constantly at Oklahoma State, with it accounting for just over 56% of his initiated offense; as both a scorer and as a passer, these P&R plays combined for a 44% field goal success (.99 points per possession), which is in the top fifth of the league in efficiency per Synergy. There are standard concerns about his lack of height/inability to see over the defense at the next level, and while it’ll be an uphill climb for him to deal with this, plenty of players his size learned how to compensate for that weakness.
As an individual scorer, things become a bit murkier for Evans. He's shown the ability to score at all three levels, highlighted by his creation ability in the pick-and-roll (43.7% scorer), a very solid mid-range game (he’s great off the bounce), and a killer floater when he gets deep into traffic. However, his scoring isn’t exceptionally consistent; he finished with middling success as a scorer in the half-court (42.2% in the half-court, 60th percentile per Synergy) AND mediocre success in transition (52nd percentile). His solid three point percentage (37.9%) somewhat hides the fact that it wasn't an integral part of his offense; only 19.7% of his shots came from beyond the three point line. His scoring repertoire is varied, but how he’ll impact the offense beyond his passing is a bigger question mark from him than it is for the rest of the first round point guards.
Evans shows a desire to attack the basket – a whopping 48% of his shots this year came at the rim, per Hoop-math.com. Only 5% of those were assisted, which shows just how much of an attack-dog he can become when he puts his head down. However, he shot 48.4% around the basket in the half court, which is in the bottom-third percentile (per Synergy). The NBA has highlighted the value of little guards who can finish at the rim over the past few years, but Evans doesn't have the insane quickness nor the explosiveness to be a great finisher around the basket until he drastically improves his creativity. Still, his determination is impressive, and he finished with 6 free throw attempts per game last season.
While their situations weren't exactly the same, it's fair to point out that Evans had the same number of NBA-bound teammates as lottery-picks Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith Jr. – which is to say, none at all – but unlike Fultz/Smith, he powered Oklahoma State to a top five offensive efficiency and an NCAA tournament berth. He was the complete floor and emotional leader for the Cowboys this season and is a excellent competitor.
Evans’ size is a much bigger concern on defense; he’s a bulldog with solid, consistent effort, but even college opponents could get good shots over him with regularity. His 6’5 wingspan helps this, and he looks like he could continue to bulk up, so there’s a chance his defensive issues could be slightly overblown (he’s not an Isaiah Thomas-level shorty). His 3.3% steal rate and 2.4 steals per 40 minutes are very impressive; he’s good at reading his man and knows how to disrupt clear passing lanes.
He’s willing to do his part on the glass, finishing with 4.7 rebounds per 40 minutes (and a 10% defensive rebounding rate); impressive for a 5’11 point guard, but he’s not going to change the rebounding equation with his opponent on most nights.
The most obvious concern about Evans is his lack of NBA tools; he’s 5’11 in shoes and doesn’t have insane or explosiveness to compensate. He’s got very solid length (6’5.5 wingspan), and he’s decently fast when he gets to his final gear, but he was limited somewhat by these tools in college and will be in the association. With all this said, plenty of short points in recent years have proven they belong in the NBA, and Evans has the swagger and competitive edge to carve a niche in the NBA. On my big board, Evans is a sharp tier down from the five lottery-bound point guards, but he's one of only three point guards I'd take a shot on with a later 1st round pick (the other two being Derrick White and Frank Jackson, both combo guards).
Fit with Sacramento:
On offense, Evans would benefit from a pick-and-roll heavy offense, which, given the versatility and mobility of the Kings big men, could fit well. His mediocre success in transition at the college level is less than ideal for the pace Dave Joerger wants to run – only 18% of his offense came in transition – but Mike Boynton reigned the Cowboys pace in, so Evans may have untapped potential in transition that could awaken with the high-flyers and shooters Sacramento would surround him with. Evans’ fit defensively is much less appealing, and (like a Dennis Smith selection) would leave the Kings without a high-ceiling defensive guard. While he might not be the long-term starter, the Kings desperately need smart, established ball handlers and at the very worst he’s a fantastic bench option. He’s as strong a trade-down/2nd round option as there is in the class.