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Can Tyreke Evans Star at Point in NBA?

Apr 1, 2009 – 10:31 AM
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Tom Ziller

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Surprising no one, University of Memphis star Tyreke Evans will enter the NBA draft after one college season. Evans went into college looking for a rental, and Memphis -- under John Calipari -- served as a proper NBA training ground, featuring a pro-style offense and no expectations for top prospects to stay longer than a season. Ex-Memphis guard Derrick Rose certainly adjusted to NBA defenses rather well after a year with Calipari.

But while Rose definitely came to the Bulls as a pure point guard, Evans is a bit of a question mark: can he be a legitimate NBA point guard? With the league infatuated with purity in the backcourt, Evans will need to make his case during workout season that he can run a pro team against pro defenses.

Honestly, Evans is a quantam leap ahead of where O.J. Mayo sat this time last season in terms of draft stock. Mayo served as USC's two-guard in his one collegiate season, and while showing great shooting range and athleticism, his stint with the Trojans didn't provide a real glimpse into his "quarterback" abilities. Fate forced Evans the other way. In December, with the Tigers struggling, Calipari moved Evans to point guard. The rest would be legend if Memphis had made the Final Four: until last week's loss to Missouri in the Sweet 16, the Tigers had reeled off 27 straight wins since Evans ascended.

In that sense, Evans should have more to offer prospective NBA suitors than Mayo did ... and Mayo was picked No. 3 in a heavy draft. But again, Mayo shot the atoms loose at Southern Cal. Evans shot ... 27 percent from 3-point range this year. Combine that with a non-elite free throw stroke and Evans won't be the most efficient guard going. Add in his propensity to turn over the ball and ... sure, he'll score. But he'll need a lot of possessions to do it.

But that's OK! Look at (ahem) Dwyane Wade. In his sophomore season at Marquette, Wade averaged 27 points, 5.5 assists and four turnovers per 40 minutes. Evans averaged 24/5/5. But Wade turned 21 during his sophomore season; Evans turned 19 two months before this season began. Wade's freshman numbers are nearly identical to those of Evans (even true shooting percentage is dead close).

Wade isn't an NBA point guard. He's an all-Universe guard. He's a complete star. No, he doesn't have range. No, he's not an elite shooter from the charity stripe. But he's actually challenging LeBron James for the MVP title ... and LeBron is averaging 28/7/7/2 on the best team in the NBA.

Judging on the surface, maybe Evans can't be one of the league's best point guards. But given the similarities in the ledger he has with Wade, that might not matter.

(Lest I look like a Pollyanna, it should be said that Wade has also worked his flipping tail off to get where is. He didn't enter the league as DWYANE WADE. Few NBA stars work on their game harder than Wade.)
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