As long as he plays for the Sacramento Kings, Tyreke Evans will be an overlooked waste of basketball talent. His repute as a lane-slashing positive impact has fallen so drastically in the last three seasons that the one-time formality of Sacramento inking him to a second contract has dwindled from “obvious,” to the strong possibility that whoever owns the team six months from now won’t be signing his pay checks.
Evans is a talented, supremely athletic guard who tricked us all into thinking he was Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose before Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose launched themselves into the sport’s stratosphere. While he routinely gets to the rim with similar ease, Evans’ ability to elevate his teammate’s level of play (ie passing the basketball) has managed to get worse instead of better. Read more…
Sometimes a simple positional designation isn’t practical. Recently, there’s been a slew of talented, successful players who’ve entered the league with an awkward size and skill set pairing. Big guys who don’t know how to rebound but can shoot like two guards, or players in the backcourt who aren’t the most adept at handling the ball but on the defensive end take on the persona of their team’s toughest player. When the game was created there were only five positions and each participant was crammed into one, making it their definition. Today, it’s different. Read more…
Keeping up on an ongoing miniseries, here’s in depth, incredibly important analysis on my fantasy basketball draft, which took place on December 17, 2011. A glorious evening it was. For more info on what’s going down here, go check out the initial entry.
Team L: Ray Allen
Team K: Nene Hilario
Team J: Brook Lopez
Team I: Joe Johnson
Team H: Tyreke Evans
Team G: Kevin Martin
Team F: Andrew Bogut
Team E: Raymond Felton
Team D: Marcin Gortat
Team C: Greg Monroe
Team B: Joakim Noah
Team A: DeAndre Jordan
Worst Value: Brook Lopez. The pick was taken before his unfortunate injury, but still, this just wasn’t a very efficient selection given the guys who were taken later in the same round; they do what Lopez does, only much, much better. More will be spoken of this in the Overall Reaction.
Best Value: Tyreke Evans. This might be based more on personal feelings than statistical analysis, but I’ve felt this entire offseason that Tyreke Evans was due for a monster comeback year. With his foot finally healthy, he should be motivated to prove his worth as Sacramento’s franchise player; the man ownership should be getting down on their knees for every day in thankful praise. I say “should” to describe both of those reasons because my mind tells me one thing, but my heart speaks another. Evans is as talented and athletic as any point guard in the league, but he may be playing out of position. Also, words from an assistant coach this offseason about Evans and Cousins needing to buckle down and study tape on a more consistent basis has me nervous. Is Tyreke really capable of wasting all those special gifts? I hope not. This season could go a long way as to dictating what kind of player he ends up being.
Overall Reaction: Round 4 was the round of big men. Of the 12 available picks, 8 of them were centers, but the order in which they were selected deserves a bit of digging. Technically, Brook Lopez’s eyes stand roughly 7-feet from the ground, but he rebounds worse than LeBron James. His name remains popular because of the embarrassing comparable talent and the fact that he’s a really tall lottery pick for a large market team, but Brook Lopez is nowhere near a better pick than Gortat, Noah, or Jordan. I hesitate in throwing Monroe in with that group because of the smaller sample size, but in all honesty he’ll probably surpass Lopez in several categories this season.
The most memorable crossovers are like a beautifully performed tango: both need two partners to play their part. Here, Darren Collison acts as if Tyreke Evans is dribbling a hand grenade. His eyes go wide at just the right moment, allowing the two to create a sequence all shall enjoy for the rest of time. All, of course, but Darren Collison.
It’s probable that in its beginning stages of existence, the crossover was designed as a blow by maneuver, designed to either open up the floor for a player’s teammates or result in a high percentage shot at the rim. But in today’s game of impenetrable, multi-layered defensive schemes, the most confident players use it to create space for a wide-open jumper of their choosing; most famously seen in Allen Iverson’s all-time juke of Michael Jordan (to which Iverson later admitted despite showing Jordan his best trick in a bag full of them, the shot was still nearly blocked).
This in and out, between the legs step back that Tyreke Evans puts on a determined Kevin Martin is a pure thing of beauty. Evans knows ahead of time that, bad foot and all, he wants no part in driving towards a Luis Scola/Chuck Hayes sandwich, so he “settles” for a wide open jumper. Some would say this isn’t a great shot—a long range two-pointer—but if Tyreke Evans is ever going to become the type of perennial All-Star he at one point looked on his way to becoming, he needs something like this in his arsenal. When healthy he can drive to the hoop as good, if not better, than everyone in the league. This clip can be seen as proof that his sophomore (injury induced) slump will, in the long run, make him a better, more complete offensive player—when he absolutely needs a basket, Evans knows how to get it.
At 6’6″ and 220 pounds, the 21-year-old has no reason to fear resistance on his fierce drives to the hoop, but should he need a breather, going to the well and discovering a move as dynamic as this one shouldn’t be a frowned upon option.
I read a great New Yorker article a few months ago about viral pandemics. How if there ever were a category in Jeopardy called “Human Race Extinction”, they’d be the answer to every question. That was the gist. We fear so many destructive forces: Terrorism/nuclear war, worldwide food and water shortages, global warming, a giant meteorite slicing through our atmosphere and emptying the Atlantic Ocean like an overweight uncle cannon balling into an above ground swimming pool. But the most dangerous thing of all could be sitting inside a Drill Monkey somewhere deep in a Cameroon jungle. Right now. As you read this.
On that solemn note I’ve widely overreached my point, which is this: Flopping in the NBA has become an unstoppable, far reaching rash. Where it started is anybody’s guess (although a staggering amount of evidence points just north of the Adriatic Sea). Players are being rewarded at a greater rate than ever before for an inability to play defense. It’s a travesty, really. I love J.J. Barea, but because he’s 5’7″ and can’t guard most of his opponents straight up doesn’t give him the right to flop all over the floor. I’m not blaming him by any means—it’d be idiotic to question the guy’s heart or toughness—but accountability should be directed at something tangible, and that happens to be the NBA’s league office. David Stern directs it all like a motion picture; he doesn’t like flopping, boom, it’s edited out.
It may be too late, but if it isn’t, basketball needs to make like hockey and soccer and penalize players who purposefully and blatantly play the referee instead of the man they’re guarding. The notion that flopping has become its own art form is vomit inducing. In actuality, all it does is water the league down with lesser talented players who’ve no choice but to act their way towards a foul if they want floor time. (Hello Derek Fisher.) It’s become so ingrained in the game, the most talented player in the world would rather receive assistance from an official than blow by Brendan Haywood.
I love Tyreke’s move not because it’s unique or capable of taking a breath away. Not because Tyreke Evans is my favorite basketball player (he isn’t). Not because Jerryd Bayless broke many a spell-check with the particulars of his first name (he has). Bayless knows he can’t guard Evans. Evans knows Bayless can’t guard him. The moment Tyreke initiates his move, Jerryd gives such effort in trying to sell an offensive foul he nearly pops out a teammate’s kneecap. I love this move because it stands for something. The referee’s swallowing of his whistle, leading to stinging embarrassment no basketball player wants to experience twice. It’s only a moment, but that one seemingly insignificant sequence represents one day ridding the league of something that’s dangerously close to ruining basketball’s integrity. Something needs to happen soon. We need a cure.