Some players have "it." We can never really define what "it" is. All we really know is that "it" is what makes players great. "It" is the trait that separates an All-Star from a Hall of Famer.
Tyreke Evans has "it." You know it from the moment he steps on the basketball court. The ball is his and the team is his. He was special in college, and he has been better as a professional. Playing on a Sacramento team that has taken a hard fall from its early decade success, he has an opportunity similar to what LeBron James has had in Cleveland.
LeBron entered the NBA at 18 with all of the hype in the world. He was going to be the next Magic or the next Michael. His high school games were broadcast on ESPN and Pay-Per-View. The NBA was supposed to brace itself for the coming of the next legend. James did not disappoint, and his carrying of the Cleveland franchise has been a sight to behold. However, in a significantly more quiet manner, Tyreke Evans is doing the same thing in Sacramento.
Evans entered the NBA with all of the talent in the world at age 20. He had shredded college defenses in his only season at Memphis, and he was supposed to follow in the footsteps of Derrick Rose as the next Tiger to win Rookie of the Year. He would complete this feat (with stiff competition from Stephen Curry), but that was the least of his accomplishments. Despite failing to make the playoffs, Tyreke had surpassed his Memphis predecessor at the NBA level.
Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James are the only rookies in NBA history to average 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in a season. Tyreke Evans joined that group emphatically, with averages of 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. The men who occupy this exclusive club all have one thing in common: they followed up their sensational rookie year with even more spectacular seasons. This is the challenge facing Evans, to match the accomplishments of these greats. There is no doubt that he will do so.
Tyreke Evans will definitely reach the statistical levels of the great players before him. The next question facing this young star is whether or not he will become a great winner, as the greats before him have been. This is mostly dependent upon how good Sacramento becomes as a team. Fortunately for Tyreke, they are headed in the right direction.
Although Oklahoma City gets the most notice as a young team on the rise, Sacramento is right behind. Players like 26 year old Carl Landry, 23 year old Jason Thompson, and 22 year old Omri Casspi surround 20 year old Tyreke Evans. Each of these players have the ability to be a major contributing role player on a great team. However, every great team has more than just one star surrounded by role players.
Magic and Kareem. Bird and McHale. Jordan and Pippen. Shaq and Kobe. Duncan and Robinson. Kobe and Gasol. Every memorable team in NBA history had a star and a sidekick. Sacramento is halfway there at the moment; they have the star part nailed down. Next up: finding a sidekick.
It should be noted that all of those great teams, aside from Jordan's Bulls, were anchored by a great big man. Dominance on the perimeter is not enough; a post presence is the key to creating a contender. Sacramento may have just fulfilled this requirement, along with the sidekick requirement with the selection of DeMarcus Cousins as the fifth pick of the 2010 NBA Draft.
DeMarcus Cousins has his issues. He has weight problems and maturity problems. His attitude has been compared to that of legendary head case Rasheed Wallace. However, he also possesses rare athletic ability, size, and basketball skill. If he puts all of these gifts together, he has the opportunity to be truly special. If he becomes truly special, the Kings will win, and Tyreke Evans will reach into the rarefied air of greatness.
Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings is poised to become the NBA's next great star. He will join players like Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, and others as the future of the league. While Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony may own professional basketball right now, they will eventually have to hand over the reins to the next generation.
Expect Tyreke Evans to be at the head of that generation.