Ever since December, as Brandon Jennings's 55-point outburst turned into a curse, Tyreke Evans has been the hands-down favorite for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award. Evans, Sacramento's lead guard, has flirted with the rare 20-5-5 line all season, a mark only Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James have ever done as rookies.
Some argue Golden State's Stephen Curry has caught Evans in the R.O.Y. race. More likely, observers are looking to manufacture excitement in the contest. Consider that Curry's best month -- 21-5-7 on 53 percent effective field goal percentage in February -- is only a bit better than Tyreke's worst month -- 20-5-5 on 48 percent eFG in November. (In fact, in February, Evans did exactly what Curry did, minus one point per game.)
Still, first leaguewide acknowledgment in years in grasp, the Kings have sought to push Evans over the top. This is how "Reke R.O.Y. Night" came about. The franchise showered Evans with love, making him the centerpiece of Wednesday's game against Toronto -- 10,000 fans got t-shirts, 5,000 got pictures of Reke's head attached to a stick, Evans got a special intro during the presentation of starting lineups, and the video screen broadcast a montage of various NBA stars heaping praise on the rookie. It was truly something Donald Trump would set up for his own birthday.
But the best part? Tyreke delivered! He notched his first career triple-double (19-10-10), though no one will be surprised if the league reverses one questionable assist in the final moments, a real boner by the Sacramento scorekeeper. More importantly, Evans led a furious Kings comeback which turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 16-point lead by the end of the third quarter. The performance included an over-the-backboard shot, which is all the rage right now.
Evans probably didn't need the help of a prominent triple-double, or a local celebration. But, barring catastrophic failure, it looks like all this helped him sew up the R.O.Y. award. Well deserved, kid.