April 13, 2010
STEINMETZ ARCHIVEKINGS PAGEKINGS VIDEO
After last years lottery debacle, Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof tried in vain to put an optimistic spin on what had just occurred. Despite having the worst record in the NBA in 2008-09, the Kings received no luck from the ping-pong balls and wound up with the fourth selection in last years draft.
Maloof remained relentlessly positive, and guaranteed to Kings fans that the team would still get a great player. Sacramento fans werent necessarily buying it, and who could blame them? Theyd been thinking Blake Griffin.
Oh, well. Score: Gavin Maloof 1, Conventional Wisdom 0.
Tyreke Evans, who turned out to be that No. 4 pick, put an exclamation point on a remarkable rookie season on Monday night, and one that will likely earn him the NBAs Rookie of the Year award.
Not only that, its the kind of rookie season that puts him in the company of greatness.
By scoring 24 points in the Kings 117-107 loss to the Rockets on Monday, Evans assured himself of joining Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only rookies in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a game.
Thats why Evans remains the front-runner for the ROY award, even with a late charge by Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
What makes Evans first season even more impressive is it seems clear that hes only scratching the surface of his ability. It is Evans strength and physicality that sets him apart from most players, and few players have his kind of upside.
You get the feeling Evans has All-Star appearances in his future. Hes still growing in terms of how to play point guard, and yet hes one of the best in the league when it comes to finishing around the basket.
Evans has the potential to be an excellent defender and if his shot improves theres no telling how good he can be.
Evans might not yet be the great player Maloof predicted. But hes sure on his way there.
-- Matt Steinmetz