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January 25, 2011
The Clipboard
Evans Regresses

by Sebastian Pruiti

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Much like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans also came into this season talking about a new, or depending on how you look at it, old jumper. The difference between Rose and Evans so far is that is that Evans has not been able to take that summer work and bring it to the court with him during the actual season. While Evans' jumper is worrisome, what is more troubling is that Evans has stopped getting to the rim and has started to rely on his jumper much more. According to Hoopdata.com, Evans' had 8.4 attempts at the rim per game last year, 2.4 more than the 6.0 attempts at the rim that Evans is getting this year. Evans is attempting 4.8 shots per game from 10-23 feet after shooting just 4.0 of these shots per game last year.

This change in Evans' attack has really altered his play, and the numbers back that up. Despite a poor jumper, Evans was able to play his way to a win percentage (Win%) of 54.8 percent while posting a WARP of 7.1 and an Offensive Rating of 107.1 on a 52.9 True Shooting Percentage (TS%). This year, all of those numbers are down across the board. Evans' Win% is just 44.9 percent, and Evans' has posted a WARP of 1.0 halfway through this season. Evans' Offensive Rating has taken a huge hit, dropping all of the way down to 102.7 as his TS% has dropped to 46.4 percent.

So why is Evans' True Shooting Percentage down this year (and effectively hurting him everywhere else)? Well, one has to look at the decrease of attempts at the rim, where he is shooting 57.4 percent, while he is taking more and more jumpers where he is shooting much worse (21.4 percent from 10-15 feet and 35 percent from 16-23 feet).

Here, Evans is bringing the basketball up and instead of attacking a much smaller defender (in this case, Eric Gordon), Evans chooses to settle for a jumper. To make matters worse, the shot comes early in the shot clock with his rebounders out of position.

In this case, Evans settles for a jumper out of a catch-and-shoot situation where he has an opportunity to drive baseline. As Carl Landry kicks the basketball out to Evans, he pump fakes with his defender closing out on him. Evans actually gets his defender to "rise up" and come out of his defensive stance. It's only for a split second, but when a defender comes out of his stance like this, it is enough for a player with Evans' driving ability to put his defender on his hip and attack the lane. Instead of doing that, Evans jab steps and loads up a three-pointer that he misses.

Again here, Evans gets the basketball at the top of the key and despite an ISO situation which is designed for Evans to try and attack the lane, he settles for another jumper. In this clip (as well as in the first clip), Evans makes his move where it looks like he is going to make a crossover dribble, but instead pulls up for a jumper.

Evans' jump shooting doesn't only come out of ISO sets. Evans continues to settle for jumpers in pick-and-roll sets as well, refusing to use screens to get himself into the paint, where he is a very capable finisher. This is the primary reason for Evans' struggles in pick-and-roll sets, where he ranks 116th with a points per possession of 0.64 in "PNR-Ball Handler" situations. Evans' build and playing style makes him a perfect pick-and-roll player, and there is no reason he should be ranked 116th, but his FG% in PNR sets is 33.6 percent. Evans' shooting percentage is low because he seems to refuse to attack the rim this year coming off screens with the basketball:

As Evans comes off of this screen, his defender goes underneath the screen with the hopes of baiting Evans into a jumper. To allow his teammate to go under the screen, DeAndre Jordan (the big defending the screener) backs off to give Evans' defender room to get under the screen. This is a good strategy for going under screens, but it also means that the big defending the screener can't switch, help, or hedge on Evans. If Evans had a mindset of looking to attack the rim, he would have been able to get in the paint easily. Instead, Evans plays right into the defenses hands by settling for the three-pointer.

Here, the Clippers switch a screen involving Evans as a ball handler, meaning Jordan is now defending Evans. Instead of pulling the ball out and using his speed advantage to get to the rim, he settles for a jumper contested by a bigger defender.

In addition to hurting his scoring stats (such as points per game and true shooting percentage), Evans refusal to drive the lane also affects Evans passing. Evans has seen a small dip in his assist percentage (AST%) this year, dropping from 6.9 to 6.4. A lot of Evans' assists came from when he attacked the lane, forcing defenses to collapse on him. If Evans couldn't get a layup, he'd simply kick it out to an open man. With Evans attacking the rim less, that means less opportunities for Evans to put pressure on the defense.

It would be one thing if Evans had a great jump shot in addition to his ability to drive the lane. However, when working off of the dribble, the form on Evans' jumper completely falls apart. Look at every single one of these clips. Evans is always falling away while kicking one leg out, not the best form in the world.

With this poor form, it is hard to believe that Evans is settling for more and more jumpers this season and relying on getting to the rim less and less. This has really hurt his performance on the offensive end of the basketball court.

The 2010-11 Pro Basketball Prospectus is now available in paperback form on Amazon.com. For sample chapters and more information, see our book page.

You can follow Sebastian on Twitter at twitter.com/@SebastianPruiti.

Sebastian Pruiti is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Sebastian by clicking here or click here to see Sebastian's other articles.

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