Why can’t Tyreke Evans play small forward?

Much has been made of the emergence of Tyreke Evans (22-5-5 in December) and how things are going to work once Kevin Martin comes back from injury. The Kings have three options: 1) try to play Evans at point guard when that’s not his natural position, 2) play Evans at off guard, even though he’s not a pure shooter, or 3) play Evans at small forward, even though he’s undersized.

Evans is great at creating for himself, but he’s not a natural playmaker at the point guard position. Kevin Martin is an underrated scorer and should not be dismissed at off guard. He’s 40%+ from long range and can get to the line at will. He’d be great as a court-spacer/sidekick if the Kings can find a way to play him alongside Evans.

What about small forward? Is Evans really undersized? Looking at the draft measurables, Evans is a tad short for SF (6’5″ in shoes), but his wingspan (6’11”) and standing reach (8’8″) are longer/taller than DeMar DeRozan, Chase Budinger, Gerald Henderson and Terrence Williams, and no one has a problem with the idea of playing any of those guys at small forward. He’s not a prototypical small forward, but the league is getting smaller and he definitely has a swingman-type game.

The downside? Evans won’t have a strength advantage over most small forwards, which is one of the reasons he’s currently so effective getting to the rim. However, he will have a quickness advantage over most taller SFs, so that should help. Another issue is defensively with Evans and Martin, the Kings wouldn’t really have a stopper on the wing.

Oddly enough, the solution would be at point guard. To complement Evans and Martin on the wing, the Kings would need to find a defensive-minded, pass-first point guard who is tall and strong enough to cover the other team’s best perimeter player. And it would help if he was a 40%+ shooter from long range. Think 2006-07 era Kirk Hinrich. He doesn’t need to handle the ball a lot, just get it up the court, initiate the offense, and share the ball on the perimeter.

It could work, right?

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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