PHILADELPHIA It's been said in jest by many people Tyreke Evans peaked as an NBA player in his rookie season.
Evans' career-best season averages in scoring, rebounds and assists came in his first season when the team's "20-5-5" campaign touted Evans' statistics as he was chosen Rookie of the Year.
As Evans returns to play in front of friends and family from his hometown in nearby Chester, Pa., Evans isn't on the rise in some major statistical categories.
For the third consecutive season, Evans' scoring average has decreased from 20.1 points as a rookie to 14.9 in his fourth season. The 5.8 assists he averaged as a rookie are down to 3.1.
And while players drafted after Evans in 2009 have received contract extensions or, like Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday, have flourished and become an All-Star, Evans is still playing for his next contract with career lows in key categories.
Evans doesn't believe he has regressed. He said his role has changed.
"That was a different situation," Evans said after Thursday's practice at Temple University. "The ball's not in my hands anymore, and I was running the point."
Evans finished last season at small forward and is now playing shooting guard. The goal is to make Evans more of a well-rounded player.
As a rookie, 78.8 percent of Evans' made shots were unassisted. That is down to 57.7 percent this season.
Evans' ability to make jump shots off the ball at a better rate is further illustrated by his three-point shooting. This season, only 5.9 percent of his made three-pointers are unassisted.
"I think when you played against him as a point guard, you wanted him on pick-and-rolls because he's only going to do this here and he's going to be in one spot," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "I think what he's doing overall with his game passing, rebounding he's filling the stat sheet up more."
Evans is second on the Kings in scoring, third in rebounds (five per game), tied for first in assists and second in steals (1.4). He also is on pace to establish career highs in shooting percentage (.471) and three-point percentage (.378).
"He's slowing down, he's starting to know that it's not just about scoring," said Kings forward Jason Thompson. "That you can rebound the ball, get assists and still be as effective. It's not just about scoring all the time and dominating the ball. If you can draw the defense and kick it to open guys, you're helping the team just as much."
Evans said he's not bothered seeing players such as Holiday make All-Star teams, or Stephen Curry, who was second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2010, play well and help the Warriors to a winning record.
James Harden, the third pick in 2009 (one ahead of Evans) is an All-Star for Houston and a big reason Oklahoma City reached the NBA Finals last season.
Curry has the Warriors on pace to make the playoffs, while Holiday and the 76ers made the postseason last year. Brandon Jennings helped Milwaukee reach the postseason as a rookie and the Bucks could qualify again this season.
Evans said he is a smarter player than he was as a rookie and that wins will help him garner the recognition that has eluded him in recent years.
"I've just got to win more games and play good every night," Evans said. "Those guys are playing good and they're winning. For us, we've just got to win games."