Mention the name Tyreke Evans among the Sacramento King faithful and you’ll get a mixed bag of reactions. Some still believe he’s the franchise savior – others feel he’s the furthest thing from it. Frankly, the NBA, like any other professional sport is nothing more than a what have you done lately league and Evans, well, he hasn’t been the Evans we’ve known recently and it’s showing in some of the fan reaction.
One of the biggest issues that fans continually barb on with Evans is his shooting, but unlike size, strength and speed (all qualities Evans possesses), you can teach shooting mechanics – you can’t teach any of the aforementioned attributes. No, Tyreke Evans wont ever become a Reggie Miller but given his unique and impressive skill-set, the most Evans needs to be is adequate in terms of shooting the ball.
I picked three other players off the top of my head (Paul Pierce, Josh Smith and Rudy Gay) whom I know struggled earlier in their careers with their shot and shot distribution and then compared them to Evans’ numbers. There’s no “got’cha” moment here, no trick stats – I simply picked players at random who had their youthful shooting issues to see how Evans’ numbers stacked up. Below are the results:
So what can we make of this? Well, as with anything, stats don’t always tell the true story – for example, Josh Smith‘s 18.4% from mid-range only came off 38 attempts for the season – so these do need to be taken with a grain of salt but they do show that Evans as a rookie was very competent from a field goal percentage standpoint. (Also want to make note of Paul Pierce‘s poor “current” shooting as it’s on the downside of his career; his career average is much higher).
One thing you do notice in the stats is the gradual increase most of the players had in some area. For Josh Smith, he improved from a near 20% shooting to 41% from 9-15 ft. Rudy Gay had a bit of a fluctuation in his stats, but he came in from a rookie and improved his close shot from 3-9 ft. Paul Pierce on the other hand (who’s a client of Evans’ current shooting coach) simply improved all around from a shooting perspective once he grew into a more mature player – but take note, it took some time.
For Evans and Rudy Gay, both players are still in the infancies of their careers so it’s difficult to spot any trends, but Josh Smith and Paul Pierce who are more grizzled veterans between the four both have seen their shooting numbers continually rise as they aged – something that is bound to happen with Evans.
As mentioned above, Evans’ rookie shooting numbers were very acceptable, then came the injury riddled sophomore year which clearly hampered him (have you ever tried to play basketball with plantar fasciitis?) and his shooting numbers. The first half of his 2012 wasn’t anything special but Evans has done well in the second half, pushing his shooting percentages to levels near his rookie numbers. Evans was still trying to get back into the swing of things after missing a good portion of the 10-11 season, only returning for a handful of games down the stretch where he still wasn’t himself.
Expecting Tyreke Evans to become a knockdown shooter simply isn’t being realistic, but there’s no doubt that over time his shot will become respectable which, given his abilities, is more than enough to be beneficial to both he and the team. As long as Evans can knock down open jumper’s with a percentage in the high 30’s, low 40’s and creep his three point percentage into the 30% area, his game will go to another level. We’re not talking about a drastic change here – just a few improved percentages and the knowledge to understand what’s a good and what’s a bad shot.
Some may want to point to some poor decision making that has haunted Evans the past few seasons and that’s completely understandable. Improving the basketball IQ is something that comes with time and experience, but some players never grasp that mental portion of the game, so if that’s your worry with Evans then I can’t fault you there. But if you’re worried that Evans wont ever become a respectable shooter in the NBA? There’s no need to worry. And when he does, the change in his game will be clearly evident.
It takes time, but the end result will be well worth it, King fans. The last thing you want to hear is patience, but, sometimes the simple answer is the correct one.