Talking With Tyreke Evans

by Lang Whitaker | @langwhitaker

As I mentioned yesterday, EA Sports and 2K Sports are currently engaged in an NBA video game turf war on a global scale, and I’ve been trying to see both sides of the tale. I spent some time yesterday afternoon with Dwight Howard at EA’s Triple Double event space, and then last night, with our man Sean Brown covering the NBA Elite launch, I went over to the NBA 2K11 Launch.

There were a ton of NBA guys at the 2K event, including Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Brook Lopez and Andre Iguodala. I ended up sitting with Josh Smith for a while, and he was still worn out from the workouts he’s been doing with SLAM’s own Idan Ravin, a.k.a. The Hoops Whisperer. Josh said he’d never worked out so hard in his life, and to me he looked great, a little slimmer than he did at the beginning of last season. Josh also mentioned that he heard new Hawks coach Larry Drew is planning to begin training camp next week with a timed mile run. My high school coach also tyrekepunks1did that on the first day of practice, and one of my teammates celebrated the end of the run by puking. Hopefully the Hawks avoid that happening.

This afternoon I swung back by EA’s event space to catch up with Tyreke Evans, the reigning Rookie of the Year and former SLAM Punk diary keeper, who was spending some time hanging out and signing autographs for fans. I knew the EA space formerly had some sort of commercial use, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was until Tyreke and I went down into what EA was using as the green room, but what was once a bank vault, complete with a huge door with mean-looking dials and locks. While found a couch, and while Reke grabbed some lunch, we talked…

SLAM: I heard you were dominating out at the Elite 24 thing in Cali last month.

TYREKE: You seen it on YouTube?

SLAM: Yeah. So what else did you do this summer?

TYREKE: I’ve been working out with my brother at New Beginnings, it’s a school, where I went to school, there’s a gym out there. I think next summer I’m going to work out with the Kings, stay in one place. I had a lot of traveling to do this summer, that’s why I worked out mostly with my brother.

SLAM: Did you take a break at all?

TYREKE: I took a month off after the season. Hardest month of my life.

SLAM: Because you wanted to play?

TYREKE: Yeah. The games were still on TV, and I’d watch them play and want to go get in the gym, but everyone was telling me to rest my body. So that was pretty tough.

SLAM: Did the rest pay off?

TYREKE: Yeah, I felt rested. Actually, I felt too rested when I came back, I was too hyped up. Once I got back into game conditioning shape it all started coming together from there.

SLAM: I talked to Dwight yesterday, and he said he took a couple of weeks off but he afraid to let his body get too far from game shape.

TYREKE: Yeah, next time I might just take three weeks off instead of a month. I got back into game shape pretty quickly though.

SLAM: What do you think about the Kings this year?

TYREKE: We’re looking pretty good. We got DeMarcus to help, and he’s a great big man. We got Dalembert, and he’s a good shot blocker, that should help us out a lot. Then we got Carl [Landry], who will be with us for the full season. I think we’re going to do bit things. Getting into training camp and starting strong I think is going to be important for us.

SLAM: You told me last year that you were kind of learning how to be a point guard on the fly. Now you’ve got a lot of big men, probably more than you’ve ever played with before.

TYREKE: That’s true.

SLAM: How will you incorporate them into what the Kings are doing?

TYREKE: I think my assist rate will go up, because it’s just me driving and those big men step up, I can just throw the lob — Dalembert is really athletic. That’s going to help my assist rate a lot. I’m looking forward to playing with those guys, getting the hang of things.

SLAM: You have any advice for DeMarcus coming into the League?

TYREKE: For him, just stay focused. People will talk about him, people have talked about his attitude or whatever, but he shouldn’t worry about that, he should just come into the League and change that around and work on being a better player.

SLAM: You had to change perceptions when you came into the League, that you couldn’t be a point guard. Was that process harder than you thought it would be, easier than you thought it would be?

TYREKE: You’ve just got to get out there and show people. When I was at Memphis, that was my first time ever playing the point. Once I practiced it, I knew it wasn’t the hardest thing ever to do, but with practice I got better and better at it.

SLAM: And I read you’ve been working on your jumper this summer. How’s that going?

TYREKE: It’s going pretty good. I’m feeling confident. Last year pretty much if I missed, I knew I had to get to the basket or get the assist. This year I’ve got to keep confident in my shot.

SLAM: Do you think the Kings are a Playoff team this year?

TYREKE: This year we could be. We can change things around. We could be one of those teams like the Oklahoma Thunder, try to change things around.