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Tyreke Evans: An Improved Jump Shot Could Improve the Sacramento Kings

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Tyreke Evans: An Improved Jump Shot Could Improve the Sacramento Kings
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Geoff Petrie, President of Basketball Operations for the Sacramento Kings, talked about guard/forward Tyreke Evans on The Grant Napear Show on Monday. 

Petrie told Jason Ross—who was covering for Napear's vacation—that Evans has been working hard this summer at elevating his game.

Tyreke's been working...I think he's really focused. I really do. He wants to get into that conversation of players at a higher level than where he's been. So I think he's going to come into camp ready to go.

Petrie has much more of an inside track to these matters than any of us, so for the sake of Kings fans, I hope he's right. I hope Tyreke is at a higher level this season than where he's been. 

It was only three seasons ago that Evans was a rookie point guard who looked like he was going to be the future star of the Kings, winning Rookie of the Year honors after becoming only the fourth NBA player ever—joining Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Oscar Robertson—to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game in his rookie year. His scoring, however, came mostly from his athleticism and ability to get to the rim almost at will.  

In his second season, he missed 25 games, primarily because of plantar fasciitis in his foot. In the 67 games he did play, he looked like a slightly less efficient version of his rookie self. This was partly because of foot pain, and partly because defenders cued in to the fact that his jump shot hadn't improved. They started backing off of him to cut off his driving lanes while challenging him to hit open shots—he shot a career low 40.9 percent from the field that year.   

In his third season, his numbers again went down, partly because he began playing more minutes at the small forward position and partly because his jump shot still hadn't improved. But unlike his second year, he was mostly healthy for his third season—last season—and played 63 of 66 games in the condensed schedule. 

While Evans' shooting percentage last year was actually nearly identical to what it was his rookie season, he had career-low averages in field goals made, field goal attempts, three-point attempts, three pointers made, three-point percentage, free throws made, free throw attempts, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, assists, steals and most importantly, points per game.

For the coming season, Evans shouldn't need to worry too much about his rebounding presence since the trio of center DeMarcus Cousins and forwards Jason Thompson and Thomas Robinson will take the blunt of those responsibilities.

With the addition of guard Aaron Brooks to provide added depth to the point guard position, Evans shouldn't have to worry about facilitating as much either. He was never a true point guard to begin with.

And with the addition of forward James Johnson, Evans shouldn't have to worry about spending a ton of time at the small forward position—except when the Kings decide they want to play small—and should truly get the opportunity to start at his more natural shooting guard position in the upcoming season for the Kings. So improving his jump shot is the best way for him to break out in the coming season.  

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If he can improve his jump shot to the level of respectability, he can again be a very effective, if not dominant, player for the Kings. 

A better jump shot could get him more opportunities at the rim if defenders are forced to give him less space to shoot. More opportunities at the rim equals easier shots and higher odds of getting to the free throw line, thus, his free throw attempts, field goal attempts and points per game should increase as a direct result.  

If the Kings hope to improve this year, they will need a high level of productivity from all of their stars—namely Cousins, Evans, guard Marcus Thornton, guard Isaiah Thomas and the newly added Brooks and Robinson.   

Evans has the athleticism. He can get to the rim with the best of them. He is a decent defender who has the potential to be a great defender. Now all he needs is the consistent jumper.

If his hard work this summer pays off, he might be able to get the Kings closer to at least having their first .500 record since the 2005-06 season. Or better yet, the playoffs.  

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