By Frank Hughes, for NBA.com
Posted Dec 18 2009 10:44AM
Sacramento Kings rookie Tyreke Evans was watching television with his cousin the other day when the announcers started talking about what Evans has accomplished thus far in his rookie year.
Evans said he got up and turned off the television.
"Why'd you turn off the TV?" his cousin asked.
"I don't want to hear that," Evans told his cousin. "I don't want to get big-headed."
His cousin turned the TV back on -- about the only time this year that Evans hasn't been able to do whatever he wants.
What they both saw was the incredible stat that now follows Evans wherever he goes: He is averaging 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a game.
Pretty impressive feat in and of itself.
But somebody came up with the idea to see what other rookies had accomplished this statistical plateau, and the answer happened to be Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
And now, because he has been lumped in with those names, Evans is gaining national attention.
"I was getting a haircut today and they were talking about me at the barber shop -- but I didn't pay it no mind," Evans said. "If I get into it, I am going to start thinking, 'Wow, this person did this, this person did that.'
"So I just try to ignore it and keep playing. At the end of my career, I will look back and see what I accomplished."
Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings has gotten most of the publicity regarding rookies thus far, mostly because of his 55-point breakout game early on. But Jennings, while talented, has been every bit his equal. He's had some inconsistencies. But hes still averaging his 20, five and five, even without Kings leading scorer Kevin Martin, who has missed most of the season with an injury.
Evansmay not yet be front of mind when it comes to the MVP discussion, but he certainly should garner a mention. And if his incredible growth curve continues, Evans could be a mainstay in The Race in the future.
"Tyreke is one of the best young players to come in this league in a long time," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "He is extremely versatile, cares about playing the whole game and about getting better. He is very, very special.
"He can be somebody who can be talked about with the great ones. He is no fluke."
Here is what impresses The Race most about Evans: He is dominating games at a position that is ostensibly the most difficult to learn. He seems to sense when to drive -- which is often because he has only a middling jump shot right now -- or when to find his teammates.
Because of his size he's able to overpower smaller guards, which includes just about everybody at the point. Against Washington on Tuesday night, Westphal, never one to shy away from offensive experimentation, put Evans in the post with the ball.
Evans easily backed down Gilbert Arenas, turned and flipped the ball in the basket. Arenas looked stunned -- he couldn't believe he just got posted-up by a rookie.
"It actually is surprising me a lot that I can overpower NBA players," Evans said. "In college, I never got a chance to post guys up and get easy baskets like that. Everything is (smaller) and you have three seconds and things so guys would help. So I would create things for my teammates out of the double-team.
"But in the NBA, things are spaced out. So I get to pick and choose: Back 'em down, or kick it out and find my teammates. So it is different."
At the end of a close game against the Wizards, Arenas isolated Evans out top and was setting up a drive to the basket on the larger Evans. Westphal did not send help, leaving the rookie on an island.
As Agent Zero started his move to the right, Evans reached in and flicked away the ball, stealing it cleanly to secure the victory.
"Gilbert told me after the game he hopes I get the Rookie of the Year award," Evans said. "But he also told me he hopes I start playing the 2 so he doesn't have to guard me anymore."
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