Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 at 3:38 pm  |  56 responses

Top 50: Tyreke Evans, no. 49

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Rudy Raya / @rudy_raya

“Wait, Who? What? Why? Wow,” was my initial reaction.

Tyreke Evans isn’t supposed to be here. Or at least not yet. Not this early in his career. No. 13 is No. 49 at the age of 23? That can’t be right, can it? There must be an error, or a mistake, a typo or something else that could explain this phenomenon.

Is he really the worst of the best—or best of the worst—in the NBA?

There’s no way. Not Tyreke. Has his career already come to this?

When he first came into the League, he made you take notice. At 6-6, 220 pounds, Evans had a sizable frame, and the makings of an unstoppable point guard. He was big, strong, fast and had the ability to take over games. He drove with aggression, exploded to the rim and finished with finesse.

He looked like he was going to be the Penny Hardaway reincarnate, dominating his puny peers with size and skill.

With averages of 20-5-5 in his first season, Evans was among a class of NBA greats like Oscar Robertson, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. He made a team of less-than-stellar players exciting and competitive on the way to capturing the Rookie of the Year award.

Most importantly, he gave the people in Sacramento a reason to watch again.

But things have changed quite a bit since then. He went from looking like a potential superstar to a player just trying to find his role on the team. Although he has shown flashes of being a promising talent, his stats have gradually declined each season.

Inconsistencies and poor decision-making have plagued Evans, leading to a high number of turnovers and dismal performances.

In his defense, his supporting cast has never been the most reliable bunch. He’s also been battling injuries and a lingering case of plantar fasciitis for the last two seasons.

The coaching changes haven’t been the smoothest transitions, either, for Evans. Head coach Keith Smart has shown a great deal of confidence in Tyreke, but where he fits into the grand scheme of things has yet to be seen.

The Goldilocks of off-guards has played at almost every position, but he just can’t seem to find the right fit. Evans is too big to keep up with little guys, he’s too small to play small forward, and his inconsistent jump shot makes him less than effective as a shooting guard.

His strengths have started to become weaknesses, and instead of ‘Reke-ing havoc, parts of his game have simply began to reek.

He flourishes on fast breaks and in one-on-one situations. Evans handles the ball with exceptional speed and skill, baiting the defender into over-committing and then losing him in a flurry of stutter steps and crossovers before blowing right past him.

While that style of play makes him extremely dangerous, it has made his game quite one-dimensional. All the opposing team needs to do is stack the paint with defenders and Evans’ efficiency dips significantly.

The defense salivates at the very thought of him forcing a pass or settling for a contested shot.

The signing of veteran point guard Aaron Brooks and the surprising production last year from Isaiah Thomas may be a sign that the team has different plans for implementing the explosive Evans.

He can definitely be an impressive player and return to his old form, but make no mistake: This is DeMarcus Cousins’ team now.

While Evans has floundered the past two years, Cousins has taken full advantage of his opportunities, stepped up and seized control of the team. In just two seasons as a Sacramento King, he has cemented himself as a burgeoning force in the NBA.

Since his very first year, Evans has yet to do anything really remarkable in his NBA career. The Kings have finished near the bottom of the League for the past three seasons and he hasn’t been able to make any serious progress toward becoming an elite player.

Winning Rookie of the Year was a nice accomplishment, but in the long-term it means nothing. If anything it’s been less of an honor and more of a hindrance for Evans. It’s like saying, “Hey, you were the best rookie in the NBA, here’s this plaque and a list of expectations that you have to live up to. Good luck and don’t blow it!”

He’s simply been in a constant digression since then. The answer to Evans’ problem isn’t a mystery: He needs to step up, and he needs to improve his shooting. Pull-ups, fadeaways, and especially three-pointers are all parts of his game that could use renovation. He has a lot to prove this season, playing in the fourth and final year of his contract with the Kings. And whether or not his future remains in Sacramento, Evans’ performance this season will largely dictate the direction that the rest of his career will follow.

Where should Tyreke Evans rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Lol I’ll take Greg Monroe

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ben Osborne

    word I voted Greg Monroe much higher.

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    Man, it’s crazy that Tyreke has fallen off so much from his rookie season. And yea, I’ll take Greg Monroe over Evans too. lol

  • LakeShow

    Evans has been…. disappointing. To say the least.
    He is boring to watch now which is something I never thought he’d be.
    He could be as high as 30 this year, but he is most likely best placed here.
    I would take Monroe without a doubt over Evans as far as their production goes.
    Although Evans still has more “potential”…

  • KBM

    All 3 star guards from that year have fallen off some, Jennings, Curry and Reke.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    it’s gotta be so damn hard to come up with a comprehensive 50. i’m about to try it just off the top of my head just to get an idea of how varied the votes probably were at the end.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    he had so much responsibility and the ball in his hands ALL game long his rookie year. Also, until Shane Battier totally exposed Rekes lack of a left hand he was defended totally differently – some of it may have to do with his plantar fascitas as well. As shown by him shooting more shots at the rim his rookie year than any other.

  • LakeShow

    Wasn’t Westbrook that year?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Naw, Westbrook was with OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose.

  • rudy

    I believe that was Harden. He went a pick or two before Evans.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    I thought he would be better at this point. I understand the Kings really have no idea what they’re doing, but I figured he’d be a better individual player. Is he a combo guard? Weren’t they playing him at the 3 last season? After his rookie season, I thought he was headed towards mini LeBron numbers every season. Just hasn’t happened. Where could he be traded to where he could play his game? If they keep him, what do they do with Isaiah Thomas who looks primed to be the starting PG there unless Aaron Brooks can keep that job? I honestly almost forgot that he won Rookie of the Year. This team is now built around Cousins, Thomas Robinson and Isaiah Thomas.

  • ctk

    Has he fallen off or just aint bein use rt ..big difference…he still 16,5,n 5 while shootin 45percent from the field …can guard 3 positions …they givin him the ball less n winnin less ..maybe its the Kings coaching n not Tyreke

  • Max

    Harden was 3, Tyreke 4.
    Thabeet was 2nd that year SMH.
    Imagine the Grizzlies right now with Harden.

  • Junior Taylor

    Boy..how the mighty has fallen. To go from being compared to MJ/Oscar/LeBron as a rookie to people questioning whether you deserve to be among the Top-50. That is what happens when you fail to improve your game in the offseason

  • http://tddaily.com/ Abe Schwadron

    1-20 is a lot easier/less variable than 21-50, I’ll say that much.

  • ShmackinAssPayback

    Most dope article braj

  • LakeShow

    He can’t guard any position let alone 3.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    he’s actually a very solid defender. can’t really check PG’s so well, but he can guard wings.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    1) James – 2) Durant – 3)Howard – 4)Paul – 5)Wade – 6)Kobe – 7)Deron – 8)Westbrook – 9)Aldridge – 10)Bosh – 11)Dirk – 12)Love – 13)Pau – 14)Bynum – 15)Rondo – 16)Griffin – 17)KG – 18)Rose – 19)Melo – 20)Parker

  • rudy

    I thought about that a lot, but the jump shot issue is huge. You can have all the handles in the world, but if you can’t shoot consistently then your game is extremely limited. I feel that he’s holding himself back more so than any coach can.

  • Caboose

    Prediction or your ranking?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    21)Manu – 22)Noah – 23)Duncan – 24)JSmith – 25)Marc – 26)Harden – 27)Pierce – 28)Iguodala – 29)Irving – 30)Nash – 31)Horford – 32)Tyson – 33)Gay – 34)Joe – 35)Hibbert – 36)Gordon – 37)Cousins – 38)Curry – 39)Deng – 40)Granger – 41)Bogut – 42)Monroe – 43)Ellis – 44)ZBo – 45)Lawson – 46)Rubio – 47)Ibaka – 48)Millsap – 49)ADavis – 50)Holiday

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    these are my rankings off the top of my head. No studying to double check nothing is stupid. If there is something ridiculous, point it out. I’ll defend it or admit to the brainfart either way.

  • showtime

    Always thought Curry or B.J. should of got rookie of the year that year..since blacke went down that year…To me even back then when people even on here were pushing as the next big point guard. He always seemed to me as a SG that can attack well but no shot..ehh

  • Slick Ric

    Once again its on…….

  • LakeShow

    Really? You know me, i’m just going off of what i’ve seen, but I swear that dude plays terrible D. I’ll have to check him out a little closer this next year, but I have yet to see him play great one on one defense.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    You probably caught some games when he had the foot injury. You’ll notice this year, I’m sure.

  • WutUpThooo

    The gaping holes in his game is his jumpshot, and Inability to work off the ball…and his inability to finish with his left smh…he could also learn not to force the issue and pass after he has dribbled himself into an uncomfortable situation lol

  • spit hot fiyah

    that would be crazy, he would fit in nicely

  • http://twitter.com/stepfdelaghetto Stepfan Raiford

    I won’t be surprised if he’s traded this season.

  • http://twitter.com/stepfdelaghetto Stepfan Raiford

    Who’s jumper is worst, Reke or my man John Wall?

  • Datkid

    Durant over Howard?

  • Datkid

    Curry hasn’t.. he’s just been injured

  • TSmoove

    LeMarcus over KLove?

  • keyon dooling

    as a life long Heat fan, Bosh over Rose, Rondo, and KLove? wow.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Until Love leads a team to the playoffs I won’t put him over Aldridge. I feel that Lamarcus’ overall effect on both sides of the court has a greater impact on winning. But I am not going to argue with anyone who has Love higher. There is a legit argument for 3 PF’s as better than all others (Love, Aldridge, Dirk) imo. My way of thinking just so happens to put Bosh above Love as well.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    If Bosh were by himself not sharing touches, I’m pretty confident that he would be in most people’s top 10′s. he’s a great two-way player who so happens to play with two even better two-way players.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Based on Durant’s continued improvement year after year and Dwight’s back injury and change to second fiddle I just give Durant a slight edge as a better player THIS season.

  • Double J

    Monroe over Evans any day, this kid has fell off so far, he’s probably lying in the Grand Canyon right now

  • Max

    I think Rondo is better than NO 14, 13, 12, 11.

  • Omar

    John Wall’s

  • Omar

    He shouldn’t be on the list.

  • LeroyShonuff

    He has battled plantar fasciitis for 2 seasons without proper surgery or rehab. He has been moved off the pg position which has also hurt his game. Stick him back at the pg and watch his numbers increase. Yes he can’t guard pg, but who really can. Over 75% of the League pg’s can’t guard pg’s. He’s better than alot of people especially Harden. Let him play pg for a whole year and watch the kings contended for a playoff spot (they won’t make it tho)

  • KevBomb

    Noah is so high on a lot of peoples lists, I don’t get whats so special about him….

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i don’t. lol

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i fully expect Noah to be higher on my list than most everyone else’s. I just love what he does for a team, i think he’s the type of player that constantly puts the team in a better position to win. I see Noah, as the Center version of what Shawn Marion was in his prime Phoenix years.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i’m sure the list i posted tapers off from what popular vote would be around #5 lol

  • rudy

    I’d give Cousins a bit more love than this. He’s probably the 2nd best Center in the league, and he has worked Dwight every time they’ve played. He’s about to blow up this year. I’m thinking 20-13 at least.

  • rudy

    You said it perfectly with that last part. It’s like he gets tunnel vision and just breaks down when the play starts breaking down. Him and Thornton do the same thing except Thornton is a bit more successful.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    “he’s probably the 2nd best center in the league” —- Probably based on what exactly? Potential? It remains to be seen if Cousins can consistently put it together. He’s the most or 2nd most talented Center in the league, and probably a top 5 player in terms of natural talent, but he is a head case. I can’t logically support him making a huge jump as a player until he actually does it. He is just too unreliable.

  • rudy

    Based on output, rebounding, ability to get to the line, defense, passing, inside game, perimeter shooting, speed, basketball IQ, and lastly potential …i don’t know how much you’ve seen him play, but he’s so much more competent than every other center. Yes, the headcase thing is an issue, but not as much as it has been. Smart has given Cousins the freedom he needs and he’s blossomed because of it.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I’ve seen a lot of him play.
    - Based on output he’s like 5th bro.
    . – 18 points and 11 rebounds looks nice, but he shot 44% from the floor (horrible for a starting Center),
    . – he was bad defensively (he really was, idk how you can list defense as a positive aspect of his game if you do actually watch him)
    . – his passing? that got worse since his rookie year, infact he averaged a full turnover more than he did assists
    . – he is decent about getting to the FT Line, but not an elite player in that regard
    . – his potential, basketball IQ, and speed for his size are absolutely wonderful, but they don’t just immediately mean he’s going to make a big leap as a player. The mental aspect of the game, specifically remaining consistent over the course of a long season are far more important for him than anything else, and so far, i personally, don’t see enough evidence to just assume he’s going to make a jump.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MrStojanovic Милан Стојановић

    he needs to request a trade

  • Eric C

    When it comes to Tyreke Evans… a part of me just… dies. I have never expected so much from a player who has already proven that theyre capable of putting up great numbers, just to see them fall off. Im still shocked at how fast and how badly Evans has regressed since his rookie season. He was electrifying, and his game was a thing of beauty.. Fast forward to the present… He’s been a disappointment, to say the least. The Kings have stubbornly and repeatedly tried for years to make Evans be their point guard, and the experiment has failed. Not to state the obvious, but Evans is not a true PG. He doesn’t have those PG instincts, those intangibles you cant teach. He just doesn’t have the right mentality for the position. Honestly I’m about ready to be done with Evans. He doesn’t want to play small forward? Fine, trade him for somebody that does and plays it well. and get rid of Salmon’s and his horrible contract in the process. Kings have neglected the SF position for years, plundering it with average to mediocre at best “talent”. Evans is rightfully dangling by a thread on this list, and I imagine that thread being the rookie year hype that captivated us all.

  • Max

    Is Pau really a better player?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    ehh, i think he’s a better player. i don’t think he’s more valuable to his team tho. but to me, the difference between the two as effective players is minimal imo