After the Kings put together two impressive wins against respectable talent in the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves, both of which featured Kings star Tyreke Evans on the bench, fans have been clamoring that the Kings are better off without Evans – or at least posing the question.
It’s nothing new – hell, we saw it earlier in the year when the Kings were void of DeMarcus Cousins (they’re 2-0 in his absences) and it’s something that happens in every city, to every franchise, to nearly all star players at some point in their career. So are the Kings better without Tyreke Evans? Well, I guess it depends on who you ask.
I’ve personally long questioned the fit of Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton, namely because they both play a ball pounding style of offense. It’s rare to get both going on the same evening from an efficiency standpoint – it’s usually one or the other. That’s not to say they can’t play together, I just don’t think they’re peanut butter to each others jelly. Both, in different ways, need the ball in their hands to play at their best ability (or so they think).
Outside of the “meshing”, the one thing fans have probably noticed is the less-selfish, more free ball movement in Evans’ absence. Is it a product of Evans not being on the floor? Just a random case of playing well? I might be inclined to say both.
There’s no doubt that with Evans on the floor, the Kings can stagnate on the offensive side when it comes to moving the ball, though I’m not exactly sure that’s completely Evans’ fault. Yes, he does pound the ball at extreme lengths on occasion, but that’s something that should be prevented from a coaching standpoint – be it putting the ball in Thomas’ hands or making Evans start the offense at an early point.
The Kings have a handful of scorers who are pretty inefficient for what they do, be it DeMarcus Cousins, Evans himself, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons – you name it. All of them also play their best – again, so they think – (outside of Cousins, potentially) when the ball is in their hands and it does stagnate the offense, it’s not something that is just directed at Evans as some may want to point out. I certainly agree with the assessment that the offense can become stagnant, but it’s too many want-to-be Chiefs, not enough Indians – it’s not just relative to Evans himself.
So are the Kings a better team without Tyreke Evans? No. Are they more fluid? More “team” oriented? Sure, I’d agree with that – but you could replace Evans with Thornton, Cousins, Salmons, whomever and get similar results in small sample sizes. Despite his flaws, Tyreke Evans is a very talented player who makes the Kings a better team when he’s healthy and on the court.
The Kings do have a gluten of inefficient scorers who do like to pound the ball, so when you remove one piece of that pie things tend to flow better for a bit – but it’s not a long term solution, in any case.