This will be the last time I react on this blog to radio rantings from the local afternoon sports talk show, and I'll tell you in a few days why I'm quite confident making that statement.
For now, though, there's some clarifying to do as it pertains to Tyreke Evans' sensational triple-double night on Wednesday and how in the world this game story led to what I was told was the perception that I'm down on Evans and don't want him to win the Rookie of the Year award.
What I want for all NBA-related accolades is for the voters (of which I am one) to get it right. And right now, that means Evans remains out front by a healthy margin, followed by Golden State's Stephen Curry and his intriguing second-half surge (yes, take note of the key phrase - second-half) and Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings. And what I really don't want, since that's such a popular topic, is Jennings getting too much credit for his team being in playoff position.
As Charles Barkley pointed out on TNT last night, guys like Andrew Bogut and John Salmons have a whole lot to do with the Bucks' success and Jennings - whose numbers simply don't compare to the likes of Evans and Curry - shouldn't luck into the ROY because of the talent around him. Case in point: the Bucks' March 3 win over Washington.
Jennings goes 2 of 12 with five assists and six turnovers, and Milwaukee wins going away. Ironically, Evans had a similar experience that same day, going 4 of 22 from the field as the Kings downed Houston. The difference, however, is that Evans has a much greater capacity to affect the game in other ways.
His assist-to-turnover ratio was five to one that day, and he certainly had something to do with the Rockets' backcourt of Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin going a combined 12 of 38. Plus, what was an aberration for Evans - it was his second single-digit scoring game since Nov. 2; the other was a loss to Charlotte - has been far more routine for Jennings.
Before his last two outstanding games in wins against Cleveland and Boston, Jennings was at a 25.2 percent shooting clip (26 of 103) in his previous nine games (he is at a 36.8 shooting clip on the season). He is incredibly inconsistent, enough so that Bucks coach Scott Skiles must gauge the Jennings meter every time out before determining his somewhat-erratic playing time.
But I digress...
The original point is that I somehow killed Evans in that story, and that's the part that is just baffling. His was a phenomenal night, enough so that I intentionally left Beno Udrih and his outstanding contributions (24 points on 10 of 14 shooting, eight assists, two turnovers) out of the piece to focus on the Evans mania and how he lived up to the moment.
As for the mention that one of Evans' assists was questionable, even the player himself had fun with that topic (as well as TrueHoop network blogger Zach Harper in his breakdown). Asked about his sideline chat late in the fourth quarter with Kings radio color man/Mr. Triple Double former point guard Fat Lever, Evans said with a smile that he was openly campaigning for some stat-padding.
"I told him that they cheated me out of my (previous) assist," he said. "I gave Cisco a pass and he laid it up, and they're supposed to give me that. If I was Chris Paul, I would have got an assist, or Darren Collison (in reference to Collison's Assist Gate). Either one of those guys. I was just trying to get some more assists."
Asked by a radio reporter if he thought he would get his ninth assist if he was on the road, he said, "Umm, I don't know" while another radio reporter shook his head left to right and got a laugh out of Evans.
The larger point is this: questioning anything relating to Evans results in these kinds of reactions in Kings Land. There has been frustration all season long from the Kings that the local paper wouldn't put the cart in front of the horse and wanted to - imagine this? - actually do our jobs and analyze the team. You always got the strong sense that they wanted us to be sure and always call him a point guard, to not talk so much about how he often struggles to keep the ball moving or why his teammates get benched for saying things similiar to what he publicly said or how his jumper has a long ways to go.
It's a silly exercise, really, because he has earned a good amount of hype in our pages while already showing with his play that he is a unique and dynamic talent in just six short months as a pro. And as Kings director of player personnel/TV color man Jerry Reynolds constantly and accurately reminds me, let's remember that he's without question one of the best 20 year olds to ever play this game at the NBA level. The scary part? There's plenty of room for improvement.
He is, as I've already mentioned, the leading-by-a-longshot Rookie of the Year and a young man who is on the verge of becoming just the fourth player in league history to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game as a rookie. For those of you who somehow haven't seen that stat yet, that's a club that only Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and LeBron James have access cards to.
Maybe it's just a matter of taste, but I would much rather take the measured and healthy approach to handling a young player as opposed to calling him great before he can legally go to a bar and waiting for him to live up to that unfair billing. I don't see that happening, though, and I suppose anyone who doesn't play that game will be treated accordingly. - Sam Amick