Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tyreke Evans named rookie of the year
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tyreke Evans has won hundreds of trophies in his young basketball career and many of them seem to have lost an arm, a basketball or some other piece in his mother's care.
Bonita Evans will have to wait to get the NBA Rookie of the Year trophy Evans won Thursday until some safeguards are in place in the home he is building her in Delaware.
"She's broken too many," Evans said. "I probably have 400 trophies and about a hundred of them broke. I'd come downstairs and she'd try to glue them back together but it was too late. I didn't care about it. But the main important trophies, we're going to put them in a glass case for her."
Evans capped his fabulous rookie year for the Sacramento Kings by beating out Golden State's Stephen Curry and Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings for the coveted award.
Evans became the fourth rookie ever to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game, joining Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James in an exclusive club.
"This is one of the awards I had a goal of since I came into the NBA, being rookie of the year," Evans said. "I'm proud it came true. It was one of my dreams since I was little. I finally had a chance for my dream to come true."
Evans was the fourth pick in last year's NBA draft after spending one season at Memphis. Like Chicago's Derrick Rose a year ago, that one year at Memphis was enough to make him Rookie of the Year.
He led all rookies in scoring at 20.1 points per game, was second in assists at 5.8 per game and fifth in rebounds at 5.3.
"After maybe the first week or two in the regular season, the level of consistency that he settled into was just remarkable given his age and one year of experience in college," Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie said. "It was just fun to watch it all unfold."
Evans was the only rookie to appear on all 123 ballots from a media panel, getting 67 first-place votes and 491 total points. Curry was second with 43 first-place votes and 391 points, with Jennings getting 12 first-place votes and 204 points. Players were awarded five points for a first-place vote, three for a second and one for a third.
While Jennings got off to a fast start, scoring 55 points in his seventh career game, and Curry finished the season with a flourish, Evans was consistently strong all season long.
Evans drew praise from around the league, with Kobe Bryant calling him a "grown man" when asked to assess the rookie race after playing Curry and Evans in successive nights in March.
Evans' performance this season brought life back to Arco Arena, where fans had grown disinterested in recent years as the Kings struggled. There was even a rally planned at a Sacramento mall on Thursday night in Evans' honor.
Evans erased any disappointment from last year's lottery, when the Kings ended up with the fourth pick in the draft despite having the league's worst record.
With top pick Blake Griffin sidelined for the season for the Los Angeles Clippers with a knee injury, second pick Hasheem Thabeet spending part of the season for Memphis in the NBA Development League and fifth pick Ricky Rubio staying in Europe instead of signing with Minnesota, there were no regrets in Sacramento with how the draft played out.
"I know there was a lot of real disappointment at that moment," Petrie said. "It just shows that life is real uncertain and good things can come out of what appear to be not so good things sometimes. It all worked out."
After a disappointing home opener when he scored only three points and didn't make a shot from the field, Evans took over the Kings after leading scorer Kevin Martin went down with an early injury. He scored at least 20 points in seven consecutive games.
Evans was remarkably consistent, averaging between 19.4 points and 22.1 points per game in every full month of the season.
"He's the most consistent rookie I've ever seen," coach Paul Westphal said. "There's nothing but a great career in Tyreke's future. Knowing him, I know he doesn't view this as an achievement. It's just a start to his career."
Curry, the son of former NBA player Dell Curry, might have been playing better than any rookie by the end of the season. He averaged 17.5 points, a rookie-best 5.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game for the Warriors.
But he was much better in the final three months, averaging 21.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game after Feb. 1. That vaulted him right into the rookie race, giving Northern California NBA fans something worthwhile to follow while the Warriors and Kings struggled through another difficult season.
Jennings entered the league with plenty of scrutiny after bypassing college to play last season in Italy. He immediately quieted the skeptics with the highest-scoring game for a rookie in 41 years against Golden State in November.
He averaged 15.5 points, 5.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds for the season, but shot just 37 percent from the floor. The one major advantage Jennings had over Evans and Curry was that he helped lead Milwaukee to the playoffs, while Sacramento and Golden State are back in the lottery again.