Why the Sacramento Kings' Season Once Again Depends on Tyreke Evans
The fourth-year guard is playing for a new contract this season, but more than that, he'll be playing to get the Kings back to a winning brand of basketball.
A lot of writers and commentators have talked about Evans' regression the past three seasons, but I don't necessarily see it that way.
A foot injury did slow him down his second season, but his numbers from his first to his third season have for the most part remained the same. It's his failure to get better that I take issue with.
His scoring went from 20.1 points per game his rookie season, to 17.8 his sophomore season and 16.5 last season; though some of that has to do with the arrival of DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas.
Evans' player efficiency rating over the his first three seasons in the NBA went from 18.13 to 14.37 to 16.52, according to Hoop Data's website.
The trend continues with his overall field-goal percentage being nearly identical in his first and third seasons—45.8 and 45.3—and dipping in his second season.
His assists and rebounds per game have gone down, but so has his number of turnovers.
Some stats have slipped, a few have gotten better, but he just hasn't taken his game to the next level.
Kings fans have seen their team struggle through six straight losing seasons, meaning more of the same just won't cut it.
Now, the Kings have done well to add talent to the roster.
Last year's 60th draft pick, Isaiah Thomas, looks like he could handle the starting point guard role. Aaron Brooks could challenge Thomas for the starting job, and at worst will serve as a quality backup.
This year's draft pick, Thomas Robinson, could end up being a beast on the boards. Marcus Thornton will likely continue to light it up on offense. And DeMarcus Cousins could become an All-Star this season.
But few players, if any, on the Kings have the potential to affect the game in as many ways as Evans could.
Evans can get to the rim almost at will, can guard the other team's best non-post player and is dynamic enough to create his own shot.
Evans is arguably the best defender on a team that ranked dead last in defense last year. But he has plenty of room to grow in his decision making, off-the-ball movement and with his jump shot.
In fact, in July, I wrote about how Evans could make the Kings better if he just improved his jump shot.
If Evans can knock down the open jumper, create plays when he doesn't have the ball and pass the ball more often when he doesn't have a high-percentage shot, he could open up a number of opportunities for his teammates.
I'm critical, but all is not lost.
What gives me hope is an article likes the one Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports wrote this week, where he noted that Evans said he's only taken one week off from working out since last season ended and this if the first offseason he's primarily worked out in Sacramento.
What gives me hope is Evans being one of 10 Kings players who voluntarily worked out with the team this summer; something long-time Kings play-by-play man Grant Napear said he's never seen before.
What gives me hope is Tyreke competing in summer competitions like the San Francisco Pro-Am league, which may not have NBA talent, but is a great way to stay in shape and practice the skills he has been working on.
It seems as if Evans is putting in the work. Now he'll have to put it together on the court.
If the Kings are going to have any success this season, they'll need him to be the player he has the potential to be.
A dynamic/effective Evans paired with a potential All-Star center in Cousins, an up-and-coming tenacious point guard in Thomas, a potent scorer in Thornton and a slew of role players could bring the Kings back to being relevant again in the NBA.
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