Tyreke Evans has had lofty expectations heaped upon him ever since playing for John Calipari at the University of Memphis. One look at the ease at which he plays the game, coupled with his 6-foot-6 stature and incredible versatility, and scouts, coaches and GMs alike are swooned with glee upon his entering the NBA draft in 2009.
Evans averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as a rookie on a bad Sacramento Kings squad and his scoring, rebounding and field goal attempts have all decreased since then. But his field-goal percentage has gone up. ‘Reke had been bounced between point guard, shooting guard and small forward his entire career with varying degrees of success at each position. Fast-forward and we now find Tyreke as a key component on a New Orleans Pelicans squad where expectations were heightened upon his arrival.
This mix of players could be the deepest squad Evans has ever played on, but that isn’t saying a whole lot. Though he will likely play shooting guard this season, Tyreke appears to be most comfortable as a small forward. The problem for him there is two fold; can he consistently hit the wing and corner three-point shots that are certain to come as teams start double teaming C-F Anthony Davis, and can he become a serious enough wing defender to guard LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony without them all exploding for 40 points, or exploding in laughter at his effort? I believe the answer is yes to all concerns.
Evans shot a career best 34 percent from three-point range last season — beating his prior best of 29 percent, and has the physical strength and effortless athleticism required to guard small forwards on a night-to-night basis. He simply has to want to do so. Injuries are a concern for Evans but the upside is still there and the ceiling is still through the roof. Tyreke injured his ankle in the preseason opener for New Orleans but is already participating in full practices. Though Tyreke is slated to come off the bench this season, that experiment might not last long. He’s just too good at too many things to not be starting every night.
Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance sports writer for Rant Sports based in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.