Evans on pace for 20-5-5 season

In his NBA Awards Watch, ESPN’s Maurice Brooks notes that Tyreke Evans is on pace to join LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only first-year players to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season. (Note: Evans is actually averaging 20.5-4.9-5.4, but he averaged 5.8 rebounds in February, so if he keeps that up, he shouldn’t have any problem averaging five boards a game.)

Unfortunately, this fine play has not translated to wins. The Kings have lost 25 of their last 32 games, and are now just 20-40 on the season.

Still, it makes me wonder how a 2009 NBA Draft Re-Do would go. The last one I saw still had Blake Griffin going #1 with Evans going #2. Would the Clippers really pass on a player like Evans — who really could have been named to the All-Star Game in his rookie season — for Griffin, knowing that the former Sooner was going to miss his first year with a knee injury? Griffin still projects to be a star, but Evans is the proverbial “bird in the hand” at this point, isn’t he?

In his ROY race, Brooks ranks Stephen Curry second (22-5-7 in Feb) and Darren Collison third (22-4-8 in Feb). Brandon Jennings (11-4-6, 31% shooting in Feb) has lost his touch and is ranked fourth. DeJuan Blair (11-5, 60% shooting in Feb) comes in fifth, but if Antonio McDyess misses any time with a sore knee, Blair should get some extra minutes.

In my Top 10 Head Scratchers of the 2009 NBA Offseason, I wrote the following about Blair:

10. Six teams pass on DeJuan Blair IN THE SECOND ROUND!
When I first heard that there were concerns about Blair’s knees, I thought he might fall into the bottom third of the first round. Even if the guy is missing ligaments in his knees, he was still one of the best rebounders in all of college basketball last season and he ate up #2 pick Hasheem Thabeet in Connecticut. When Blair fell into the second round I was stunned as the Kings, Wizards, Blazers, Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies all passed on Blair. A second round pick doesn’t require the same kind of financial commitment as a first round pick, so there’s very little downside if the guy doesn’t pan out. Blair fell and fell, right into the inviting arms of the Spurs, who will be lucky to have him on the roster for the foreseeable future.

Teams just could get their heads around the fact that Blair has no ACLs in his knees. While I sort of understand not wanting to commit first round money, it doesn’t make any sense for the aforementioned teams to pass on him in the second round, where there is very little financial investment. This goes double for the two “contenders” on that list — I’m looking at you Portland and Denver — who should be worried about the short term and not the long term impact of their second round picks. Blair would give the Nuggets some much needed toughness, and he’d sure help in Portland, where half the front line is out for the season with injury.

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Tyreke Evans drains game-winner against Nuggets [video]

That move is almost impossible to guard without double-teaming. He’s so good at getting to the basket, so when he stops and spins, it’s tough for the defender to change direction quickly enough to properly contest the jumper.

He’s currently the frontrunner for the ROY, and it’s doubtful that Blake Griffin is going to get enough games in to catch him. Brandon Jennings and teammate Omri Casspi are the only other serious candidates at this point. Since Michael Redd is starting to play well in Milwaukee and Casspi is Evans’s teammate, it is going to be tough for either guy to usurp him. It would probably take an injury or a month-long slump to turn the tide of the ROY race.

Line of the Night (12/21): Tyreke Evans

The Sacramento Kings were down by 35 POINTS in the middle of the third quarter and rallied to beat the Bulls, 102-98, in the biggest comeback in team history. Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 23 points and eight boards, and also dished out three assists. He’s definitely making a push for ROY — right now, it’s neck and neck with the Bucks’ Brandon Jennings.

The surprising Kings are 13-14, and have won four of their last six, including back-to-back road games against the Bucks and Bulls. Oddly enough, they’ve kept their head above water without Kevin Martin. It will be interesting to see how he fits in the lineup now that Evans is thriving at off guard.

Here are the highlights:

Here comes Tyreke!

When it comes to the rookie class, Brandon Jennings has dominated the headlines, and for good reason. His 55-point outburst against Golden State was quite the coming out party and his 22.1 ppg average in November was far and away tops amongst rookies, right?

Not so fast.

Rather quietly, Tyreke Evans has put together a nice month and a half. Here’s a comparison:

Jennings: 21p, 6a, 4r, 42% FG, 44% 3PT, 1.1s, 3.0t
Evans: 20p, 5a, 5r, 46% FG, 26% 3PT, 1.5s, 3.0t

Aside from Jennings’ superior accuracy from long range, those numbers are pretty similar. Evans has been playing more off guard since Kevin Martin has been sidelined, but the Kings are still starting him at the point. In December, he’s averaging 24-5-6 and is shooting 51% from the field. After his hot start, Jennings has cooled off, averaging 19-3-6 this month, while shooting just 39% from the field. He has only hit 9 of 31 threes in December (29%).

The Kings are a surprising 9-12, while the Bucks are a less surprising 10-11. Evans is much stronger and is probably better suited to the rigors of an NBA season (though it should be noted that he has missed a game this season, while Jennings has not). Meanwhile, Jennings attacks the defense with quickness using more of a finesse game (pull up jumpers, crafty layups, teardrops) to score. It’s going to be interesting to see these two guards battle for status as the ROY frontrunner, and what happens when Blake Griffin returns. Also, can Evans keep up this pace with Kevin Martin back in the lineup?

We will see.

Meet your NBA ROY frontrunner: Brandon Jennings

With Blake Griffin sidelined for the first six weeks of the season, the race for ROY is suddenly wide open. Griffin will still have plenty of time to stake his claim, but for now, the spotlight is elsewhere. It was supposed to shift to Tyreke Evans in Sacramento, but the Bucks’ Brandon Jennings has stolen the show.

He nearly became the second rookie in the history of the NBA to register a triple-double in his first game when he posted 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists against the Sixers. The next night, after a quiet first half where he only scored three points, he erupted for 16 points in the third quarter, leading Milwaukee to a huge comeback (and an eventual win) against the Pistons. Here’s a look at a phenomenal steal and finish that brought the house down…

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