Posted by: Kingsguru21 | July 24, 2011

Is Tyreke Evans ready to take his next game to the next level?

You’ve already read Jason Jones piece at the Bee about Tyreke Evans and the summer he’s having so far. But what does it mean? The answer: We’ll see when the season comes.

So I’ve got a better idea: Let’s compare Tyreke’s first 2 seasons to Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. The first table is totals. All data is from Basketball-Reference.

Total Raw Stats Games Minutes FGA FG% FTA Assists Turnovers Steals
Tyreke Evans 09-10 72 2677 1165 45.8% 465 414 216 109
Tyreke Evans 10-11 57 2107 933 40.9% 266 319 184 85
Derrick Rose 08-09 81 3000 1208 47.5% 250 512 202 66
Derrick Rose 09-10 78 2871 1373 48.9% 338 469 217 57
Russell Westbrook 08-09 82 2668 1095 39.8% 428 435 274 110
Russell Westbrook 09-10 82 2813 1160 41.8% 329 652 262 108

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Now this table is all advanced stats:

Advanced Stats ORtg DRtg TS% eFG% USG% TOV% AST% Win Shares
Tyreke Evans 09-10 107 110 52.9% 47.3% 26.2% 13.6% 26.1% 5.4
Tyreke Evans 10-11 98 109 48.2% 43.2% 25.3% 14.9% 24.9 1.6
Derrick Rose 08-09 108 113 51.6% 48.2% 22.6% 13.3% 28.8% 4.9
Derrick Rose 09-10 106 109 53.2% 49.5% 27.2% 12.5% 30.3% 6
Russell Westbrook 08-09 99 111 48.9% 41.4% 25.8% 17.6% 27.5% 1.9
Russell Westbrook 09-10 105 106 49.1% 42.8% 25.7% 16.6% 38.6% 6.1

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Now here is the 4 Factors (Offensively only), Pace, ORtg and DRtg of the teams along with where the team ranks in each category for the first 2 seasons of Evans, Rose & Westbrook respectively. Here is the NBA totals for the 08-09 season, 09-10 season and 10-11 season.

Team stats and Rank Pace ORtg DRtg eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FG% Win-Loss Total
Sac 09-10 94 (7) 105.3 (22) 109.9 (20) 49.1% (23) 13.6% (19) 27.8% (6) 20.7% (25) 25-57
Sac 10-11 95.2 (4) 103.5 (25) 109 (20) 48% (26) 14.4% (26) 29.9% (1) 20.8% (28) 24-58
Chi 08-09 93.1 (9) 108.4 (15) 108.7 (18) 49.3% (21) 13.3% (17) 28% (6) 23.9% (12) 41-41
Chi 09-10 93.1 (11) 103.5 (27) 105.3 (11) 47.7% (27) 13.3% (15) 26.6% (16) 21.7% (21) 41-41
OKC 08-09 93.6 (8) 102.9 (29) 109.4 (20) 47.1% (30) 14.8% (28) 28.6% (4) 24.2% (10) 23-59
OKC 09-10 93.1 (13) 108.3 (12) 104.6 (9) 49.4% (18) 13.9% (24) 28.6% (3) 26.8% (2) 50-32

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1 note about both of these tables: Everything is ranked 1-30 in best to worst in each category (thankfully). Also Offensive/Defensive Rating simply means points per 100 possesions (higher over 100 is better offensively; lower than 100 is better defensively). Now for the Defensive 4 Factors of each team:

Team stats and Rank Pace ORtg DRtg eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FG% Win-Loss Total
Sac 09-10 94 (7) 105.3 (22) 109.9 (20) 50.5% (19) 12.6% (23) 73.5% (18) 24.4% (21) 25-57
Sac 10-11 95.2 (4) 103.5 (25) 109 (20) 51.3% (26) 13.5% (12) 74.4% (13) 23.3% (18) 24-58
Chi 08-09 93.1 (9) 108.4 (15) 108.7 (18) 49.3% (10) 13.1% (15) 70.9% (28) 23.8% (18) 41-41
Chi 09-10 93.1 (11) 103.5 (27) 12.3 (24) 48.4% (7) 13.3% (15) 74.8% (7) 21.2% (7) 41-41
OKC 08-09 93.6 (8) 102.9 (29) 109.4 (20) 51.4% (30) 13% (18) 73.9% (13) 21.6% (8) 23-59
OKC 09-10 93.1 (13) 108.3 (12) 104.6 (9) 49.4% (18) 13.9% (24) 28.6% (3) 26.8% (2) 50-32

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First off, I think it’s clear how bad Tyreke’s injuries as it certainly played a part (not the only part necessarily) of his poor 2nd season.

But, at this point, I’d also say that the biggest issue is that Tyreke has already missed 35 games total in his career, Rose 4 games and Westbrook hasn’t even missed a single game. That will almost certainly end up being the single most important thing for Tyreke Evans moving forward. Any way you slice it, missing 35 games over 2 seasons is not acceptable if you’re a star NBA player.

Looking at Rose’s first 2 seasons, it’s clear that he was the best player of the 3 listed here. It’s also worth remembering that Chicago in both years had mostly veteran players in the rotation. It’s not like he was part of an extremely young team like Evans and Westbrook were. And, unlike Westbrook, there wasn’t another high end blue-chip player for Evans to play with in his 1st season, and, unless Cousins develops that, there isn’t an opportunity for Tyreke Evans to do that in Sacramento either. Now, having said that, I do think there is a reason why someone like me says Evans is closer to a franchise player than people may think. The Free Throw attempts were excellent for a player of any year, and it’s likely to get higher if Tyreke can stay healthy. Again, much of the key for Tyreke as a player is simply health and work ethic. This doesn’t mention that Tyreke played on the worst talent of the 6 teams in his rookie season, or that Tyreke was the best boardman of the 3 G’s (Rose is decent and Westbrook is good at it).

As far as Rose, you don’t need to be introduced to him. Russell Westbrook might surprise people in that he’s led the NBA twice in Turnover’s and was 4th in TO’s in 09-10. Yet, if you notice, OKC has gotten better (or stayed on par) in TOV% each (13.9% in 08-09, 13% in 09-10 & 13.1% in 10-11) and every year with Westbrook as the primary ballhandler. You can focus all you wish on individual TO’s, but sometimes it matters less how many TO’s an individual like Westbrook gets than it does matter how many TO’s Westbrook eliminates from his teammates in the process. Especially if those teammates are hitting more of their shots. Which strangely enough, OKC has seen it’s eFG% start from 47.4% in 08-09, go to 49.4% in 09-10 and hit 50.1% in 2010-11.

Magic Johnson was in the top 10 in total TO’s every year of his career in the NBA. And while the Lakers were in the bottom half to to barely in the top 1/3 of Magic’s career (much later were the better years)in TOV%, the Lakers were top 5 in eFG% every year except Magic’s last (the Lakers were 9th). The point here is quality shots are what consistently score you points in the NBA. Which is why, and one of the reasons Paul Westphal stresses this, creating your own shot is so incredibly important. You make Turnover’s at times making plays. It’s better to be aggressive trying to score and have it not work then turn the ball over because you have difficulty creating shots (which is the single biggest difference offensively between Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins right now).

The other point I’d point out that when you look at total TO’s, in the 09-10 season Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 539 of the 1227 total TO’s. That’s nearly 44% of OKC’s total. You put the ball in your guys hands who can score (and incidentally create shots), and what will happen is that if they can do it consistently your offense will rise with it. Another part of this is that because Westbrook and Durant are on the floor for the majority of OKC’s possessions, it stands to reason that even though they turn the ball over a lot, it’s not necessarily going to reflect poorly in their TOV%. Kevin Durant had a very low TOV% of 10.6 but managed to be 5th in the NBA in total TO’s. There are quite a few guys who, by total numbers, turn the ball over a lot but have low TOV%’s.

This is one reason I’m against DeMarcus Cousins playing in the paint or near the basket; he just isn’t as good creating shots down there as any of us would like. Until Cuz becomes this supposed low post beast (and it might take awhile honestly), Cuz is actually a better perimeter player. Should he improve? Yes, but until Cuz can consistently score in that 3-9 range better than he does (which is where you take a lot of shots when playing in the post), DeMarcus Cousins has a long way to go in being an effective perimeter player. Click on the 2nd link in the 3-9 Ft range to see the Hoopdata monthly breakdown.

Player & B-Ref Page At Rim Make + Attempts eFG% 3-9 ft Make + Attempts eFG% 10-15 ft Make + Attempts eFG% 16-23 ft Make + Attempts eFG%
Pau Gasol 3.1-4.5 69.5 1.7-4.1 42.9% 1-2.3 43% 1.3-2.8 48.7%
Marc Gasol 2.2-3.1 70.5% 1.4-3.2 44.3% 0.3-1.0 33.8% 0.5-1.1 44%
Nene Hilario 4.2-5.9 71.5% 0.4-1.1 37.8% 0.1-0.4 29.6% 0.6-1.3 46.8%
Tim Duncan 2.2-3.1 71.7% 1.5-3.2 46.3% 0.6-1.8 33.8% 1.2-2.9 42.7%
Chris Bosh 2.4-3.5 69.9% 0.8-2.2 37.1% 1.0-2.2 44.6% 2.5-5.5 45.1%
Carlos Boozer 4.0-6.0 66.6% 1.2-2.9 40.2% 1.0-2.3 41.9% (3) 1.1-3.0 37.4%
DeMarcus Cousins 2.6-4.1 62.4% 1.1-3.5 30.4% 0.4-1.3 33.0 1.2-3.3 37.4%

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Notice something? Players who understand their strengths score well. Players you don’t understand their strengths or simply force things will have a tougher time scoring consistently. The easier shots you create for yourself increases the likelihood that you will have an easier time scoring. If DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t understand this, things won’t improve. If Tyreke Evans can figure out to appropriately diversify and add to his arsenal of solid offensive tricks, he’s a superstar. Especially if he’s healthy.

I know one issue is the assisted number for Cousins, but that’s not all there is to it in Cousins’ case. Part of the reason I put this up was to illustrate that if Cousins is more productive consistently, a big part of that could be attributable to Tyreke Evans and consistently excellent play. That’s really the point.

Another part of the point is that in a lot of ways, it will be up to both Tyreke and DeMarcus to take this team to another level anyway at some point. The issue, I think anyway, is that Cuz isn’t quite ready for that yet and Tyreke Evans obviously is. That said, I think that’s why the Kings will probably take a run at Nene and hope to re-sign Sam Dalembert at the same time. That would be an upgrade and decrease the strain on Cousins. Additionally, it would also increase the likelihood that Tyreke would have better offensive targets and less players who are still figuring things out at the NBA level.

******

The bottom line is that Tyreke has the talent to take the Kings to the playoffs. The bottom line is that teams, rightfully so, switched bigger players onto Reke so that they could take advantage of the weak SF spot. Now, presumably, opponents cannot do that nearly as effectively with John Salmons. (Which remains to be seen of course.)

If you go out and get Nene, re-sign Dalembert and Thornton (this is the most likely of the 3 as there is no way the Kings are letting Thornton walk), there are no more excuses for Tyreke Evans and, for that matter, Paul Westphal.

Tyreke showed at times throughout his rookie season with equal parts of defiance and will that he was always willing to do whatever was necessary to achieve a victory. Sometimes that meant taking poor shots. But I do find it revealing that in March and April, Tyreke had a sub-50 TS%. Before those months, he was around 54% throughout the season.

My point? Tyreke Evans will need the weapons (Nene & Thornton mainly) to take advantage of how teams have defended him. Nobody will care if he has plantar fasciitis again. After making teams lives miserable for much of his rookie season, teams resorted to superstar treatment of a 20 year old kid.

Does anyone else on this roster merit that treatment? No. This is about Tyreke Evans taking this roster to the playoffs. Hence why the write-up by Jones has merit when Evans feels that he’s as good as Westbrook and Rose. Why? Because he has the talent to be that’s why. He has different strengths and weaknesses than both of them. He’s the worst passer of the three, but I also feel that’s a bit overrated too. With weapons around him, I have a feeling Tyreke could average 7.5-8 assists next season.

Tyreke is what he is, and he is a combo G who plays with the ball in his hands. If you put shooters, talented wings, and talented big’s around him, that’s a playoff team. Or it should be. The only way the Kings won’t get to the next level is because Tyreke Evans won’t share the ball (something I don’t really believe is the issue) and because the other guys won’t accept that Tyreke is the star of the team (not hard to believe).

The two area’s I’d really like to see Tyreke improve are in his 10-15 range and post-up’s. As a big G, he’s physical and abusive enough to make players pay on the block. Additionally with his ability to get to the basket, effectively mastering a pull-up makes Tyreke Evans unguardable at this level. Especially with talent at the other 4 spots (which, again, is a hope).

Obviously a lot of this is dependent upon a number of things which is somewhat in the Kings control and somewhat not. But Tyreke Evans has the opportunity to illustrate why he won Rookie of the Year and why he led Memphis to 33 wins in a row. These types of things don’t happen by accident. Tyreke is a really really really talented player who has the ability to effect 2 ends of the court in a way only a few players in the NBA can.

Tyreke’s words mean squat. What Tyreke can do is show improvement in his mid-range (in limited fashion Tyreke’s numbers were tremendous in the 10-15 range his rookie year) and show improvement by doing it. Talking about is time past. Does he need to talk to the press and do that whole squawking tour? Yeah, that’s partly how you build a personal brand and image at the NBA level. On the other hand, the way you go about being a NBA star is by going out and being a NBA star on the court by doing things that few, if any, can go out and do consistently on a nightly basis. It’s hard, but that’s the difference between the suckas and the playaz.

“I’m anxious; I’m real anxious,” Evans said. “I just want to go out there and show everybody I can play basketball, especially with the year I had last year. I hope we don’t miss games so I can hurry up and get out there.”

This is the money quote. You’re either motivated to play or your not. But the great one’s have that inner fire. Either Tyreke’s motivated because he wants to get better and he’s supremely disappointed in his 2nd season. Or, he’s just saying the right things. Again, this is “do as you do” and all that comes with that will follow.

“Especially getting to the cup,” Evans said. “I really couldn’t finish like I wanted to because of the foot. It was tough for me going to the basket and not finishing like I usually finish. Just pushing off that foot, that’s the foot I jump off of, so that was kind of tough.”

Actually, I think the big difference was in the 10-15 range between his rookie and 2nd seasons. Especially when you notice that the eFG% at the rim is virtually identical in both seasons. (the eFG% at the rim is actually slightly higher in the 10-11 season.) But stopping and cutting on a dime in the 10 foot range? I imagine that was so painful that there was clearly times defenders knew he couldn’t do it. It’s exactly like telegraphing a pass.

Whatever the reason, whatever the method, it’s clear that Tyreke Evans needs to take his game to the next level? Will he? That’s the question really. And, to be honest, I think Tyreke will if his body lets him. He has all the talents, both mental and physical, to be a great NBA star for a long time. If his body holds up is the only question.

I guess this is where I mention that I would really like to see this team have a full training camp and a full 82 game slate. This is the first time in a long time I’ve really looked forward to a season and anticipated it greatly.

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