Coming into this past season, Tyreke Evans and the Kings fan base expected a return to a glory for the former Memphis product after a sophomore season that was derailed by injury. During the handful of games Evans played in that injury riddled season, there were flashes of his greatness, moments where your jaw dropped in awe at a move he made or a basket he finished off. Needless to say, given another year of experience and health on his side for the 2011-2012 season, great things were expected.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.
Statistically, it’s difficult to find fault in Evans’ numbers, at least from an average standpoint. 16/4.6/4.5 to go along with 1+ steal and a half block a game? Even at times exhibiting lockdown defense on the opposition – yeah, those sure do look pretty, but it’s how Evans got those numbers that made them emptier then they appear. Although his offensive win share was up significantly from his injury filled second season, it still wasn’t at the level of his rookie campaign and his defensive win share was at a career low, only managing a .6 – a score nearly three times lower then his injury riddled campaign. A lower usage rate (although not by much) can be contributed to a dip in some of the numbers from previous years, like the drop in assists (thanks to Isaiah Thomas), but even with the drop in usage rate, the turnovers were up.
More then stats though, it’s the frustrating way that Evans played which drops his grade when compared to his stats. Simple things like getting back properly on defense when you’re not directly involved in the play or understanding your position and role on the floor. Although playing a schoolyard style of game can be forgiven during a rookie year, letting your style of game still replicate that in your third season simply isn’t acceptable.
If there’s any saving grace for Evans, it’s his age, and that must not be forgotten. Still only at 22, Evans was essentially a high school senior when he was drafted by the Kings at 20 years of age. A season at Memphis, where only a small portion was played at point guard wasn’t much on the court training and the lack of leadership in Sacramento didn’t help, nor did the absurd amounts of promotion, touting him as the next great thing.
Tools wise, few can challenge Evans. His combination of size and speed is a rare specialty, but it’s up to Evans to accept the mental challenge to be the player his skill set would allow for. Only he can make that happen. Numbers wise, Evans’ season was completely acceptable, but it’s hard to argue that much of those stats weren’t empty, devalued by mental mistakes and moments of poor hustle.
It was difficult to settle on a grade for Evans, mostly because he seemed to be in between a C- and a D+, but his improved play during the seasons final two months swayed it upwards.
Season Grade: C-