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Tyreke At His Best

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Tyreke At His Best

Find out why Tyreke Evans and his teammates believe the former Rookie of the Year is in the midst of his finest NBA season to date. Plus, get an update on the Kings guard’s status for Wednesday’s game.

Although Tyreke Evans’ name has oftentimes gone hand-in-hand with “20-5-5” ever since his historic rookie campaign, No. 13 –who’s listed as day-to-day (left quad strain) for Wednesday’s Kings-Clippers showdown at Sleep Train Arena – has no doubt this season has been his most complete all-around year.

“(I) definitely (think it’s been) the best season for me, just because of the way I’m making shots – my field goal percentage is high,” says the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year award-winner, who’s currently averaging 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest.

“My first year in the League, it was a great performance – a good season for me to come in and make a name for myself – (but) it was just a good start.”

Kings Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reynolds shares a similar sentiment about the Memphis product’s development since his eye-opening first year.

“People always look at the statistics, but I think he’s a much better player right now than he was as a rookie,” says Reynolds. “I think he’s made remarkable progress because he’s a much better perimeter shooter, much better at playing without the ball and a much better individual defender.”

Entering his fourth season with career marks of 44.1 percent from the field and 25.5 percent from three-point range, Evans has connected on a career-high 47.8 percent overall – sixth among all qualified guards and second behind only Dwyane Wade among shooting guards, according to NBA.com/stats – as well as 33.8 percent from behind the arc this year.

“The biggest problem I had (was) when I’d shoot the ball and miss, I’d try to change it up,” reveals Evans. “Now, I’m staying focused and trying to keep the same shot every time. I know you can’t make every shot – I try to follow through.”

In addition to going though drills with a shooting coach – whose advice helped No. 13 improve his mechanics last season – Evans credits his progression to multiple weeks spent with an instructor recommended by his brothers, Doc and Reggie.

“I picked (my form) up from a trainer – a good guy from D.C. who’s worked with a lot of guys in the League – my brothers brought out here,” says the Kings guard. “I did a little bit of work during the summer with him, and I just got the hang of it from there.”

In addition to serving as a confidence booster, Evans’ jumpshot has allowed him to improve as a playmaker and created easier scoring opportunities for both him and his teammates.

“It’s definitely helped him open up his driving lanes and just opening things up on the floor because (defenses) can’t just sag off of him,” explains Isaiah Thomas. “When he can rely on a consistent jumper, he’s a guy who’s definitely one of the top guards in the NBA and definitely hard to guard.”

“When I was in New Orleans, we were always playing for the drive and letting him shoot,” discloses Marcus Thornton. “Developing that jumpshot (has been) big for him. All he can (do is) go up from here.”

Since being drafted at just 19 years-old, Evans believes he’s become a better decision-maker on the hardwood – where he’s averaging the fewest turnovers per game (2.0) of his career – as well as matured off the court.

“I feel like I’m getting old a little bit,” he says with a chuckle. “It’s definitely been a blessing just to have the opportunity to be in the NBA, being in the position I’m in right now. As you get more and more years in the League, you kind of settle down, and I’ve definitely (grown).”

Evans acknowledges his ongoing journey has already come with its share of challenges, adjustments and transitions – from debuting as a point guard with the ball in his hands on every offensive possession to overcoming painful injuries and learning a pair of unfamiliar positions.

“(My rookie year), I knew I had to (put the team) on my back, (help) turn the franchise around and try to stay focused,” he reflects.

“Then, the (plantar fasciitis) injury was tough (in 2010-11). It affects parts of your game – when you run and you push off – especially for a guy like me who gets to the basket. I’m glad it’s gone away and I can just go out there and play (freely).”

After starting the first 158 games of his pro career in the backcourt – averaging 18.8 points, 5.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds per contest – Evans shifted to small forward midway through his third season.

“(Head) Coach (Keith Smart) put me there to try to do whatever it took for us to win, and I just said I wanted to do whatever it takes for us to be a better team,” says No. 13.

“But, it was a big transition. People don’t think it’s that different because it’s on the wing, but it was definitely different for me (to go) from always having the ball in my hands. I had to learn different things and watch a lot of film to try to get the hang of things.”

After spending countless hours studying the likes of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, Evans says playing off the ball allowed him to enhance his cuts to the basket and ability to get open, assisted baskets.

In the process, the Chester, Pa. native – whose imposing combination of strength, size and quickness consistently presents matchup problems for his counterparts – continued to develop into a versatile defender, embracing the task of slowing down the League’s premier scorers.

“I just think of it as a challenge (to be) one of the best defenders who plays on the team, trying to stick the (opposing team’s) best player,” he says. “Maybe (I don’t) start off on him, but if he gets hot, (I’ll) switch over – whether it’s a guard or a (small forward), I can guard most of those guys.”

Kings veterans have been impressed with how Evans – who’s played the bulk of his minutes at shooting guard during the 2012-13 season – has continued to excel and mature into one of the game’s best all-around players on both ends of the court.

“I just feel like he’s learning the game more and more – he’s learning how to play the NBA game with his head, not just with his talent and his physical ability,” says John Salmons. “He can move laterally, he has good hands, so he’s definitely a very capable defender, and you can just put the ball in his hands at any one of three positions and he can produce.”

“It comes with time, it comes with experience – he’s just not rushing everything,” adds Chuck Hayes. “He’s seeing the court a little bit better, as far as his patience and knowing when to attack. He has very quick feet, active hands, and he can be a great defender, as well.”

Reynolds divulges the 6-foot-6 multidimensional guard’s skill set is reminiscent of numerous past and present All-Stars and All-Defensive Team members.

“He reminds me of a few guys … (with his) length and the way he plays on both ends,” says Reynolds. “I think he’s going to be a multi-position player, kind of an Andre Iguodala-type, because he can also guard multiple positions.”

Evans, who grew up admiring and modeling his game after Anfernee Hardaway and Tracy McGrady, says the next four years of his career will be “interesting,” as he continues to make strides in all facets of his game.

“I want to be a complete and a dominant player, so I have to work extra hard,” he says. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge for me to come back better and be one of the best guards in the League.

“You just have to go out there and work – that’s the only way you can get success. It doesn’t come to you easy. You have to be a hard worker and that’s how you accomplish things.”

And One

Take a look below at how Evans compares to his top 2009 Draft class peers through four seasons.

Player

PPG

FG%

3P%

RPG

APG

SPG

Stephen Curry

19.2

46.6%

44.7%

4.1

6.1

1.6

DeMar DeRozan

15.1

45.2%

22.4%

3.5

1.8

0.8

Tyreke Evans

17.5

44.9%

27.6%

4.8

4.8

1.4

James Harden

16.1

44.2%

37.0%

3.8

3.3

1.3

Jrue Holiday

13.4

43.7%

37.3%

3.6

5.8

1.4

Brandon Jennings

17.0

39.4%

35.2%

3.4

5.7

1.5

“Tyreke is still young – it’s only his fourth year,” says Hayes. “He hasn’t even reached him prime yet.”

Fan Take

What are you expecting to see on-court from No. 13 as his ascent continues?

  • http://www.facebook.com/angelo.amon.1 Angelo Amon

    Tyreke will only improve another summer camp to develop his shot he would be one of the hardest player to guard.. I already think that there is no one more smooth than him driving through the lane.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donavon.childers DC Ray

    Tyreke doesn’t get all the credit people give him but in a couple seasons he just might be that franchise player sacramento is destined to have. Yah I don’t say Seattle. F@*k Seattle.

  • vonhulland

    No matter how much you brag about yourself Evans, we have seen what you can do and what you CAN’T! This team is always trying to be able to get a new rookie and have the ball drawn. We don’t need that we need a good team.

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