20.1 PPG, 5.8 AST, 5.4 REB and 1.5 STL
At 6'6" and over 220 lbs, Tyreke Evans is a specimen. He has incredible handles, as many have seen on YouTube, and a knack for getting into the lane. He is a unique player because he doesn't have superior athleticism, but in the first season he got it done and made players look foolish.
When he put those numbers up on his rookie season, many thought it was only the beginning. But could it be the end as well?
After a disappointing sophomore season—plagued by foot problems that took away his quickness and explosiveness—Evans looked like he was ready to for a potential breakout year in his third season.
The major flaw in his game was his suspect jump shot. Jump shots, though, can be improved through hard work and dedication. That was exemplified by LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.
All those guys came into the league with below-average jump shots. They are now respectable jumper shooters who give defenses a lot of trouble when they're open.
Tyreke Evans was also known for his wide range and accurate jump shot in high school, when he was recruited heavily by many top schools. However, during his freshman year at the University of Memphis, he lost his stroke and his form.
How good will Tyreke Evans be in 3 years?
This past offseason, there have been numerous reports from analysts and writers (including one here from ESPN's Chris Palmer) that Tyreke Evans looked like he lived and breathed in the gym and was working on his jumper.
Without a doubt, Evan's numbers have improved, percentage-wise. Many fans can see that his jumper is still far from respectable.
So what is he? Is he a superstar? Is he an All-Star? Or is he an average basketball player who won't be better than what he is now?
In the first three games of the 2011-2012 NBA season, Tyreke Evans looked like he was on pace to set another 20-5-5 season. With more weapons on the team, it is fair to say that Tyreke Evans does not need to score as much.
His numbers might not jump as much as people think they should. However, it is fair to say that there really isn't a glaring improvement in his game from his first season.
To be fair, he's only played three games, which is a very small sample size. It's really unfair to judge a player's improvement and skill set after just three games.
But those who have watched the Kings play would've really liked to see Tyreke Evans score a streak of big baskets in crunch time. They would have liked to see him score when the team needed an offensive boost, instead of scoring four or five points per quarter.
He also needs to show that his basketball I.Q. is high with the good decisions that are expected from a third-year player. The most obvious display of such improvement will be through his passes; all Kings fans ask for is that he doesn't pass in the air after he drives in with no plan B.
So what's the answer to my title?
The answer is all of the above. But with a heavy lean towards an "average" player—and it really pains me to say this.
For many players, their third year in the league is the "breakout year." Only a full season of basketball will tell if Tyreke Evans has really taken a big step towards being one of the top players in the league.
I am a huge believer, however, that he can one day turn this around and become a dominant player with no glaring weaknesses. Time is running out and everybody can't always be hoping.
He's already an above-average defender. Becoming a mid-range jump shooter would open up his game and make him virtually unstoppable.
He's not Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade or Russell Westbrook. He's not a supreme athlete with ridiculous speed and vertical leap, but his strength, size and ball control make him a unique player who is tough to handle when he's on.
For the Kings fans out there, let us hope he will be the cornerstone of the franchise. It's hard to imagine him being a failure.
Let's hope that his hard work over the offseason will pay off, that he fills up the stat sheets with great numbers and adds higher number on the win column than in the loss one.
Let us hope that Tyreke Evans, and fellow potential superstar Demarcus Cousins, put us back on the map.
Based on what you've seen for the first three games—and comparing them to his previous two seasons—what do you think?