King of Sacramento
Q&A with Tyreke Evans about his ‘Reke for ROY campaign.
We knew that Tyreke Evans was going to be in the City of Angels on Saturday night for the Kings’ game against the Clippers, so SLAMonline cleared its schedule and made some time to catch up with the cat who many believe will be taking home the hardware for Rookie of the Year by season‘s end.
When we approached Evans before the game with a couple questions he was kickin’ it courtside, relaxed as can be, head-to-toe in his Sacramento warm-up gear, taking in the Staples Center scenery.
Surprisingly enough, he was more than willing to chat for a few minutes before signing a couple autographs for the fans lingering around him and going through his pre-game routine.
In retrospect, talking with him before the opening tip was a good idea considering the Kings lost, 99-89. Not sure things would’ve worked out well in the locker room afterward.
SLAM: What do you think of Los Angeles?
Tyreke Evans: L.A. is cool.
SLAM: You guys got the Clippers tonight and Carl Landry is making his debut as a King. What did you think of the deal that brought him to Sacramento?
TE: I like the pickup. Landry adds toughness to this team, something we needed. He gives me someone to throw the ball to down in the low post. He’s good for 17 and 10 every night. He makes us better.
SLAM: How much better?
TE: We want to be a playoff team. The move will help us be a playoff team. That’s the goal.
SLAM: Playoffs? Interesting. Ain’t mad atcha Tyreke. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves with talk of the future, let’s revisit the past and the road you took to the NBA. How’s the transition between the college game and life in the League going?
TE: There’s been a little adjustment.
SLAM: What do you mean?
TE: It’s different. At Memphis, the lane was crowded when I drove to the basket. Defenses collapsed on me all the time.
SLAM: How is that different from what you’re seeing now?
TE: There’s more space in the NBA, more space out on the floor. It’s more freestyle. I can get to the basket when I want. And when I dish the ball, guys knock down shots all the time. Things weren’t that way in college.
SLAM: With all of the success you’re having, it seems like your game is tailor-made for the NBA. Do you agree?
TE: I didn’t expect things to be like this in my first year.
SLAM: You mean easy?
TE: Nothing’s easy. (Laughs)
SLAM: My boy, Scotty, picked you up in our fantasy basketball league early in the season. Back then, he said: “Watch out for Tyreke.” Now, he’s saying: “Evans is killin’ it.” Did you ever think you would be able to come in and average 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game right off the bat?
TE: No. Thought I’d average 10 points, or something like that. You never know.
SLAM: Ever sit back and think about how well things are going?
TE: I’m playing good now, it’s all about keeping it up. I always dreamed of being in the League. Now that I’m here, I’m taking advantage of every opportunity that I get.
SLAM: Who’s going to win Rookie of the Year?
TE: Not sure.
SLAM: What about Brandon Jennings?
TE: I don’t know about all that. There’s a lot of good players in this class.
SLAM: Think about all the guys that won the Rookie of the Year award in the past, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, etc. In the back of your mind, you don’t think about winning?
TE: If it comes, it comes, that’s how I look at it. If I win Rookie of the Year, it will be a big accomplishment. But then I’d move on. I try not to listen to all the hype. I just play the game.
SLAM: Fair enough. Good luck out there tonight. You dropping 30 on the Clippers right?
TE: We’ll see. (Laughs)
For the record, Evans didn’t drop 30. In fact, we might have jinxed him, at least in the early going on Saturday night.
He got off to an uncharacteristically slow start and didn‘t score his first bucket of the game until the 11:19 mark of the second quarter. Evans had eight at the break, but showed some signs of life with 11 points in the third quarter.
A basket with 6:43 left in the fourth quarter capped the scoring for him. All told, he finished with 21 points on 9-13 shooting from the field in 40 minutes of action. Going 2-7 from the free-throw line certainly didn’t help matters.
Somehow, we don’t think a couple bad quarters of play will make or break his case for the Rookie of the Year honor. Evans has done far too many things well to even consider such a notion. At this point, the award could be his to lose.