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Kings rookie Evans among the best in the NBA

Posted by rc360 on December 16, 2009

(This story was featured on the front page of  the Sacramento Press)

He’s one of the quietest players on the team, yet he’s a vocal leader on the basketball court. He’s only played 21 games in the NBA, yet he’s being treated like a star around the league. He’s only played point guard for less than a year, yet he’s performed well against the elite of that position. That player is Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans.

Evans has become one of the best players in the NBA in a short amount of time and even the league’s superstars are taking notice of the rookie from the University of Memphis.

“It feels cool knowing that I’m a threat,” Evans says about his presence in the NBA. “A lot of people doubted me, saying that I was not going to be a good player in the NBA. It just shows my hard work, that it paid off and I’m really happy for it.”

Evans is averaging spectacular stats of 20 points, five rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Only Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade has averaged those numbers this season.

Wade played against Evans in a 115-102 win over the Kings and the rookie impressed him.

“He’s a good young player,” Wade said after the game. “He has the most complete game, as a rookie in the league. He can do it all. He’s a great player. They have a good pick in him.”

Evans is leading a team that was predicted to be among the league’s worst for a second year.

The Kings finished with a league and franchise worst 17-65 record last season. The team has shown that it’s a much tougher team than last season.

This season the Kings are 10-12 and have won over half as many games in 22 games as it did the entire 2008-09 season.

“Starting with us (rookies), we all like to play real physical,” rookie forward Jon Brockman says about himself Evans and Omri Casspi. “(Evans has) been sensational. He’s been leading the team and going out there every night with his hard hat.”

He needs a hard hat too. Evans has missed only one game with a sprained middle finger but he also sprained his ankle and took a hard fall on his chest and hit his head separate games.

His tough play was the reason why the Kings picked him. He’s a player who is able to finish at the rim with his strength. In a surprising road win against the Utah Jazz on Nov. 7, Evans posted 32 points and seven assists against Deron Williams, know as one of the strongest point guards in the NBA.

Former Kings guard Ronnie Price in fouled Evans mid-air, but Evans finished with a highlight dunk over him.

Several months before, the Kings were looking for a player like him. The team used the fourth pick on Evans in the 2009 NBA Draft, passing up Ricky Rubio, the Spanish point guard who was perceived as the No.2 player in the draft behind the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin.

Rubio was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the next pick but stayed in Spain.

Five months later, Evans became the NBA Western Conference T-Mobile Rookie of the Month and it fuels his motivation.

“It feels pretty good just to go out there and know all the hard work I’ve done, it paid off,” Evans says.

Many NBA experts criticized his jump shot coming out of college and throughout NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, but Evans learning curve has been phenomenal.

He’s has worked with the assistant coaches and improved the form of his shot and it is no longer a problem.

Whether he pulls up for a jump shot, uses his strength to post up point guards or his speed to drive to the basket, Evans has evolved quickly into a star.

“He’s a very versatile player,” Westphal says. “There’s not much he can’t do and the things that he can’t do he’s going to learn and be able to do real soon.”

For years there hasn’t been a player that has grabbed the national spotlight for the Kings. Evans has finally grabbed that spotlight and it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Click here to read the story on Sacramento Press.

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