A letter to Tyreke Evans

Dear Tyreke Evans:

Today in the Bee, Ailene Voisin has a column dedicated to the potential brilliance of you, Tyreke Evans. It’s worth reading naturally, but there is a lot of meat to the piece. Since you’re probably busy playing Call of Duty or some other video game I’ve never heard of or don’t care about, I’ll just read out loud some parts of the column that I really think are important pertaining to the growth and best interests of your career moving forward. Here goes:

“Yeah, yeah, we have guys who can do things,” Evans said with a forceful nod. “I think we’re building a real team. I don’t feel as much pressure to do so much. I don’t have to have the ball in my hands all the time, even though I’m used to that. We’re going to stop being selfish. My goal this year is to play defense, to will myself to play great defense.”

You’re getting used to me saying it by now: This Kings team will go as Tyreke Evans goes. And, guess what, what’s new about that? The most interesting thing that Tyreke Evans said in the column was that “the pressure to do as much” is no longer there. Hmmm, ya think?

There is a natural pecking order to this Kings team that we haven’t seen in some time. (The collective we as it were. As if there is any other kind incidentally. Or something.) There seems to be a reasonable 3 man or 4 man rotation that works as such: DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes, JJ Hickson and Jason Thompson. Rather than trying to fit Jason Thompson in this time around at the 3 spot (like everyone else I hated it too), there is no reason. There are no shortage of guys who can man the 3 spot. Jason Thompson is the 4th big man in this rotation (based on his play in pre-season). Having a natural pecking order up front from day one helps this team a great deal.

There is an actual SF for Tyreke Evans to work with for whom production is the norm and not the hope.

One of the things that would always illustrate and mark how Tyreke Evans grew as a NBA player would be the ability to balance the facilitation he absolutely needed to accomplish as a player with the ball in his hands so often, scoring while doing the facilitation, and maintaining the energy to be a defensive stopper to boot.

I’ve said for awhile that I think 2 years is a reasonable amount of buffer time to let a player grow and develop. (Notice I won’t be writing this about DeMarcus Cousins quite yet.) For Tyreke Evans it’s put up or shutup time. It’s time to illustrate what is and isn’t important. You see Tyreke? Fans actually care about this stuff. The stuff above wasn’t even addressed to you but the 30 or 40 readers who may stumble upon this in an insomnia ridden hysterical mood.

Further on down in Voisin’s column:

“Coach talked to me about (improving) my defense before camp,” Evans said. “I know if I play great defense, we can be a good team. That’s why I asked coach to put me on Monta (Ellis). It’s not easy, though. When I talked to Chuck (Hayes) in practice, he said, ‘You have to defend to make the playoffs.’ Chuck has helped me a lot. Never played with anybody who talked so much on defense. But, man, it’s hard.”

You thought it would be easy Tyreke? Did you think NBA superstardom would come naturally and no work would have to be put forth in order for said superstardom? Or are you simply not succinct enough to state what’s on your mind? I often wonder Tyreke.

Back in reality land, Tyreke makes a solid point about the lack of communication that the Kings didn’t have the past 2 years. Some of that was the personalities and the makeup of the teams. Some of that is that Chuck Hayes is a vocal defender who takes that job seriously. If you’ve wondered why the Kings have said they need more veteran players, this is certainly one reason why. Keith Smart did a tremendous interview with James Ham at Cowbell Kingdom that pretty much said all of this. This part of the interview with Smart was really what got me but the whole thing is excellent (please read all of it):

Yeah, sharing with coach Westphal, I said, you have to get some pros. You know, guys that come to practice early, work on their game at a high rate. I look at John Salmons in drills, yesterday, I said to him in front of the group – “How many years have you been in the NBA?” Salmons said, “nine years.” I said, “guys, look how hard this guy works and he’s a nine year vet. We know what he’s going to be able to do in a game, because he’s proven it already. Now he’s proven it, now he can take breaks in camp, he’s been to nine training camps already, he can take a break. But this guy’s going at a high rate and you guys need to get to that point where you guys are working this hard all the time and hopefully you can have a long career like this young man has.”

Having him (Salmons) and Chuck Hayes, who are pros, these guys, you don’t need to tell them when to get in the weight room or when they need to get on the floor and get extra shots or extra running in. They know as professionals and that’s where the young players need to get to that point. Right now, they are doing it off of natural energy and ability right now.

I apologize Tyreke, but sometimes I need to be clear what’s in my letter and what isn’t. Forgive me for forgetting that there is a difference between a letter to you and a blogpost that my readers will read. This is something that has been missing with this team, and from a chemistry standpoint Chuck Hayes stands to be the greatest addition to this Kings team next season. One last point from Voisin’s column:

“If I got to (defend) every night,” he added, “I have to be ready. You know? Like I said, I just have to get the will to be a great defender. We got guys who can handle, score, like Marcus, Jimmer. That’s my goal, my focus. I want to win.”

Fine Tyreke. This is your focus. But if you don’t continue to focus and push that every inch you absolutely have to push to win games, your image will suffer both in Sacramento and elsewhere around the country/basketball world. This is your time Tyreke Evans. I hope you realize that you need to take advantage of this opportunity to get yourself, this franchise, and your teammates a chance to finally taste some victories at the NBA level. It’s about time you realize that you can’t just roll the balls out there and get success at the NBA level. Success at the NBA level takes dedication, hard work, talent (which you have Tyreke), and a commitment that starts with all the hard work you put in and ends with a commitment to a game plan put forth by the coaching staff that is by nature there to help you advance yourself as a professional basketball player. It is up to you, Tyreke, to push this Kings team by working with Paul Westphal, Keith Smart and the rest of the coaching staff. It is up to you to make your teammates accountable when things are not going the way they should.

If you are a leader Tyreke Evans, you need to act like a leader. Leaders aren’t afraid to tell people hard things that are unpopular. If Jimmer misses an assignment, you must tell him that he missed an assignment. Or, whomever it happens to be. Leaders of their team don’t point figures, they lead by example. Leaders work with their teammates to better themselves to make their games truly more productive in the complete sense.

But guess what Tyreke? If you don’t actually accomplish much of what you’re saying, you will be wasting your talent and drive as a basketball player. The only person you can blame for yourself not succeeding is you. Not a single opponent will give you a basket, and you know this. You’ve been facing superstar defenses for a season and a half now.

Tyreke, Kings fans want you to succeed. We don’t really care if you’re a Chris Paul clone or not. (Even if we are clueless enough to say it that way.) But we would like you to experience exceptionally powerful and insightful growth as a player and a leader. We don’t care how many points or assists you get every night. Or rebounds or steals or blocks or what your shooting percentage is. We’ll talk about it because these things illustrate some measure of effectiveness. We talk about these things cuz we gotta yak about something to the yakety yak yanno?

We believe in you Tyreke. We know the balancing act of trying to take the Kings world on your shoulders is a difficult one. Yet, we’ve seen incredible things from you before and believe we will continue to see this greatness in the future. Please Tyreke, reward us for our faith. Go out and have a great season for yourself, and the fans will love you in droves. (Well except for the fans who want to trade you for Nic Batum. After you make the All-Star team and the Kings make the playoffs, we’ll just throw those fans in the dungeon and let the dragon of the house eat the key. Then the dragon can breathe fire up their ass and the uptight fans with little to no patience can go away charred to pieces and the rest of us can root for you in peace.)

We ask more of you because you can do more Tyreke. We demand more of you, give you no rest when you need it because we desperately need to believe that you can make miracles every time you get on the court. Tyreke there was a time where you convinced Deron Williams you were his Kryptonite, decided the pressure of Madison Square Garden was for suckaz, and picked Gilbert Arenas’ pocket in the last useful moment of Arenas’ career before descending from the heavens to play Russian Roulette with blanks. That was among your first 50 games in the league. You were remarkably consistent and effective as a non-shooting layup drill rookie. It didn’t matter that every team in the L knew you couldn’t shoot, that you were trying to get to the hoop, or that you were playing with 2 holes in the lineup just about every night next to you. You were consistent, strong, and mystifying. It was fun Tyreke. Bring back the good times. (And bring them back 66 times this season.) We’ll settle for nothing less than 66-0 this season Tyreke. We’re just pie-in-the-sky that way.

Looking forward to an All-Star break-out season and a Kings playoff berth,

Nate Hughart

P.S. Feel free to build Sacramento a new arena in your spare time or give Sandy Sheedy a lobotomy. Either would improve the quality of life in Sacramento. Again, Thank You.