Find out how No. 13 has improved his all-around numbers and efficiency. Plus, learn more about the impact Brooks and Salmons have made on the starting five’s offense.
Kings guard Aaron Brooks didn’t have to think twice when asked to characterize Tyreke Evans’ recent level of play.
“I’m seeing that guy from his rookie year – the one I (saw) when I was playing against him,” said No. 3. “He has his confidence and he’s making excellent basketball plays – not just for himself, but for others, too.”
Over the last four games, Evans has averaged 21.3 points – up from 11.6 points over the previous nine contests – to go along with 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals.
“(I’m) just being aggressive,” said No. 13. “(I’m looking to) set the tone for (myself by) coming out, taking my shots and just keep playing hard and getting to the basket.”
Scoring with exceptional efficiency, the Memphis product has shot 52.5 percent from the field and 91.3 percent from the foul line during the timeframe. According to NBA.com/stats, Evans has not only made 65.5 percent of his attempts in the restricted area, but 66.7 percent from 15-19 feet.
“I know I’m not perfect and (won’t) make every one, (but when) they give me the look, I just have to shoot it with confidence,” said Evans. “Once I see it go in, that gives me a lot of confidence.”
Kings Head Coach Keith Smart praises Evans’ determination and willingness to improve for the uptick in the guard’s production.
“I think you have to give the young man all the credit because … he’s stayed the course,” said the Kings leader. “He has not wavered from his work ethic. He has not wavered from how he’s been trying to play so give the credit to him for keeping the right head on his shoulders when I’ve challenged him to play better.”
Evans’ improved play has not coincidentally coincided with Smart’s decision to move Brooks and John Salmons into the starting lineup on Nov. 18.
“Those guys are veterans – they understand how to win,” said Evans. “With Aaron Brooks playing off the ball sometimes and knocking down his shot, I think that just helps us a lot.
“He spaces himself well behind the arc – he and John do a good job of staying by the three-point line,” he added. “So when I’m driving and I’m in traffic, I just try to look for one of those two or the big men.”
While Evans has taken on a larger playmaking role despite starting at shooting guard alongside Brooks, neither guard has abided by the standard definitions of their respective positions.
“Am I a one-two (point guard-shooting guard), is he a two-one – who knows?” asked No. 3 rhetorically. “(We) just go out there and make plays.”
Quickly developing chemistry in the backcourt, Brooks – who’s averaged 11.8 points on 73.1 percent shooting from the field and 61.5 percent from long range over the last four games – says his ability to share the ball and spread the floor has paid dividends for both players.
“I’m comfortable with (Evans) – he makes great decisions and when he needs someone else to bring it up, I can make decisions, too,” he said. “It’s always good to have two point guards on the floor at the same time.”
“(We’re) taking turns – (if) he’s hot (or) I’m hot, we just read off each other and know how the game’s going,” explained Evans. “He (doesn’t) complain and I don’t complain – I think we just go out there and work with each other.”
– Smart commends Evans’ progression as an all-around player after primarily serving as a scorer throughout the majority of his basketball career.
“I think when he’s guarding guys we’ve put him on this year, he and John and (James Johnson) have done a great job of guarding twos and threes,” said Smart.
“One thing I’ve been impressed with (is that) he’s been able to defend guys on the low box and on the mid area and not get fouls called.”
Evans says he’s focused on forcing shooters out of their comfort zones by making them drive or put up low-percentage jumpers.
“It’s like a challenge … to go out there and play defense and try to be aggressive still on offense,” he said. “(The keys have been) reading the defense, just trying to be creative out there and take what they give me … (I’m) trying to be at the right spots at the right time.”
– In addition to shooting a collective 52.8 percent from the field and converting fastbreak opportunities, Smart believes Salmons’ steady hand on both ends of the court has been instrumental to Sacramento’s success in two of its last three games.
“I think he gives us that calming voice on the floor,” said Smart. “It’s no coincidence that here’s a guy who’s in the lineup and his defensive grade has gone all the way up because he has awareness and knows where he needs to be on the floor.”
Over the last six games (four starts), the 11th-year veteran has chipped in 7.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals per contests, as well as shot 40 percent from long range.
“He doesn’t force issues so you have another player on the floor who’s not really looking to force anything,” said Smart. “He’s going to take what the defense does and I think he’s a quiet leader in that regard.”
– After falling to Minnesota on Nov. 2, Cousins looks forward to avenging the loss at home Tuesday.
“That was a game we should’ve won,” said No. 15. “That was a game where we were playing against ourselves and we caved-in the game.”
“We just want to come out and play better,” added Brooks. “We didn’t play that well that game, and we’ve been playing a little bit better basketball (recently). We’re going to continue to work hard and continue to get better.”
– Cousins and the Kings take on Kevin Love and the Timberwolves Tuesday at 7 p.m. To get tix, Click Here.