Posted Apr 29 2010 4:37PM
It didn't take long for Tyreke Evans, named the T-Mobile Rookie of the Year on Thursday, to get comfortable in the NBA. In fact, Sacramento Kings president Geoff Petrie and head coach Paul Westphal knew they had a star right away.
"The first day he walked into our training facility, the veterans, as soon as he started playing, started deferring to him," Westphal said.
"You saw that he was going to be a real load for a lot of people to guard," Petrie added. "After the first week or two of the regular season, the level of consistency that he settled into was remarkable given his age and one year of experience in college. It was just remarkable to watch it unfold."
When Kevin Martin went down with a wrist injury in the second week of the season, the No. 4 pick in last year's Draft took over the Kings' offense, scoring 32 points in just his sixth NBA contest. And after the hysteria of Brandon Jennings' 55-point game wore off, Evans became the clear favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award.
He was the consensus pick in December and January [Evans highlights, month by month], and around the All-Star break, it was hard to imagine a scenario in which he didn't end up as close to a unanimous winner. But as Stephen Curry started putting up big numbers for the Warriors, and as Jennings' Bucks climbed up the standings, Evans lost his grip on the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy in the minds of many pundits. It wasn't his own doing though, as his numbers remained consistent throughout the season.
In the end, Evans received 67 of a possible 123 first place votes [release, vote totals], enough to earn the fifth Rookie of the Year award in Royals/Kings franchise history and the first since they moved to Sacramento. He was in the top three on every ballot. Curry (43 first place votes) finished second, Jennings (12 first place votes) finished third and the Hornets' Darren Collison (one first place vote) finished fourth. Minnesota's Jonny Flynn and Chicago's Taj Gibson each received a pair of third place votes.
|Evans by the Month|
|Tyreke Evans' rookie season|
This was one of the better rookie classes in recent memory, especially at the point guard position. And whether or not you think he's a real point guard, Evans was at the top of the list.
He led all rookies in scoring, averaging 20.1 points per game, just the fourth rookie in the last 10 years to average 20 points per game. He ranked fifth among rookies in rebounds (5.3), second in assists (5.8), and second in steals (1.51).
Evans is just the fourth player NBA history, joining Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan, as well as reigning MVP LeBron James, to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as a rookie.
Evans is in the Dwyane Wade mold, in that he's relentless in his pursuit of getting to the basket, and can seemingly get there whenever he wants to.
"He possesses a rare combination of size, speed, skill and commitment to winning," Petrie said.
His 465 free throw attempts were 192 more than any other rookie attempted this season, and his 6.5 free-throw attempts per game were more than any rookie guard since Allen Iverson averaged 7.2 in 1996-97.
With Martin now in Houston and the Rookie of the Year trophy heading to his mom's house, the 20 year old Evans is the leader of a franchise that suddenly has a bright future. He says he's ready to take the next step, both on the floor and in the locker room.
"I'm looking forward to coming back, being more of a leader, and trying to help this team as much as possible," Evans said.
After such an historic rookie season, the sky is the limit.
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