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.

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Maurice Brooks’ ROY Watch

The ESPN editor updates his Rookie of the Year standings

1. Tyreke Evans, Kings: After missing three games with a bum ankle, he returned to the Kings’ lineup in Saturday’s loss to the Mavs. He didn’t shoot well but provided his usual goodies in the rebound and assist columns. (Last week: 1)

2. Brandon Jennings, Bucks: Critics point out that his game slumped a little in December. Considering how well he played in November, averaging 22.1 ppg, he can afford to slip up some more and still not finish any lower than second in the Rookie of the Year voting. (Last week: 2)

3. Omri Casspi, Kings: Kudos to the Kings’ front office for drafting not one but two studs. He is averaging more than 18 points and eight boards while shooting almost 50 percent from 3-point range in his last five games. (Last week: 5)

No arguments here. I think Evans’s strong December pushed him ahead of Jennings, who has tailed off a bit. Jennings averaged 22-4-6 in November and 17-3-6 in December.

And Casspi is also impressive. When was the last time the same team had two strong ROY candidates?

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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.

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