Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Optimistic View of Tyreke Evans

Four years ago, Tyreke Evans had a pretty darn good rookie season; one in which he averaged over 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists (something done by only Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, and LeBron James).  Four years later, people are scoffing at the idea of him making $11 million per year and Kings fans seem to be perfectly fine that he left.  How'd we get here?  The "answer" is that his rookie year was his best year and that his numbers have declined every season.  But are they really as bad as everyone seems to think?

In three of his four seasons, Tyreke has averaged at least 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists.  How many players have averaged those numbers at least three different seasons?  44.  And of those 44, how many have been an All-Star?  41 (which includes 18 Hall-of-Famers and 6 guaranteed future HOFers).  That's a pretty impressive group to be a part of.  Not to mention the fact that Tyreke has done it in only his first four seasons.  Only 15 others accomplished the same thing in their first four years, with only one never becoming an All-Star (Ron Harper).

Of course, one of those years is Tyreke's rookie year.  If you want to assume his rookie year was an aberration, then let's pretend that he only has two years that qualify and expand the requirement from players who accomplished that for three seasons to players who accomplished it for a minimum of two.  That list would grow to 67 players.  Of those 23 additional players, only 6 were never an All-Star (which includes one that may become one - John Wall).  Exclude Evans and Wall (since they still may become All-Stars) and you have 65 players with those stats.  58 of them made an All-Star team (89%).  (It should also be noted that there have been 64 ROY award winners and, excluding Evans and Lillard, only 8 have never gone on to appear in an All-Star game.)

In other words, his statistical performance would seem to indicate that the odds are in his favor that he'll be an All-Star at some point in the future.  Now you may think that Tyreke is just a "good stats, bad team" guy.  That's certainly possible.  But it's also true that his bad team would be just as likely to negatively influence him than it would be to positively affect his stats.  The guy played for a completely dysfunctional organization that employed terrible coaching.  The guy has put up decent numbers, in spite of the poor roster construction, terrible coaching, position changes, and injuries.  Oh, and the guy is still only 23 years old.  Put him on a team that's not dysfunctional, with a coach who understands the value of a rotation, and it's not hard to envision him fulfilling his potential.

This isn't to say that Tyreke is "guaranteed" to be an All-Star or that his contract is completely reasonable.  Because even though he is only 23 years old, that also means that his contract will end while he's still in his prime (so if he does live up to his yearly salary, it may not be until the third or fourth year of the contract).  All I'm saying is that while New Orleans probably overpaid (by a least a little), don't be surprised if the move doesn't backfire.  Don't be surprised if Kings fans eventually regret losing him.  And don't be surprised if, at some point in the future, you see Tyreke Evans with "East" or "West" on his chest.

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