Editor’s note: This is the sixth in the annual series from Salt City Hoops ranking the current players on the Utah Jazz roster. Throughout the preseason, we’ll count up through the current Jazz roster, from worst to first, profiling each player as we go along. The profiles are individually written by Salt City Hoops’ staff of writers, while the ranking was selected by me (Andy Larsen). To go through JazzRank articles from this or past preseasons, visit our JazzRank category page. Jeremy Evans is #8.
Jeremy Evans: In order to understand the gray area between a young player either busting out of the NBA entirely or becoming an established cog of NBA rosters, I deconstructed the 2010 draft class according to minutes played. I narrowed my search to exclude players who had never played in the NBA, or who had played such limited minutes that hardly registered as roster pieces. My arbitrary endpoint was 500 minutes played, and I thus eliminated from my consideration almost every player who has already busted out of the NBA. I also wanted to exclude players who had already become a consistent part of the year-to-year pool from which teams fill their rosters, as well as players who because of team need or pre-draft hype had been given enough minutes to quickly demonstrate they weren’t NBA-caliber. Including Jeremy Evans, there are seven players in the 2010 draft class with at least 500 minutes played but no more than 1000 minutes played for an NBA team: Luke Harangody, Devin Ebanks, Dominique Jones, Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward, Damion James, and Jeremy Evans. Of these seven players, only Luke Harangody (who is out of the NBA and playing in Russia) and Lazar Hayward did not rank anywhere in ESPN’s NBA Rank (a ranking of the 500 players in the NBA). Of these seven players, only one of them is still playing with the team that drafted him, having never been traded or waived: Jeremy Evans.
Jeremy Evans’ Jump Shot: In preparation for writing this profile, I spent about an hour looking at Jeremy Evans highlights on YouTube. I don’t say this to brag (and yeah, anyone with any proper awareness of what about life is meaningful and worthwhile would never consider it a brag), but I watched almost every minute of Jazz basketball last season. Yet as I sat at my computer thinking about Jeremy Evans about a week before the preseason started, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what his jump shot looked like. I sat there and thought and thought and tried to extract some previously useless memory of a Jeremy Evans jumper–I even tried to remember warm-ups at the ESA–and I couldn’t. So I went to YouTube, and not until I watched the video of his career high 14 points against Charlotte last year did I remember it (it looks a little like Kendrick Perkins’ jump shot, which isn’t meant to be but definitely could be interpreted as a deeply cutting insult). I say this not because I think the key to Jeremy Evans’ success this year is his jump shot–if he’s taking tons of jump shots, then something about the Jazz’s offense has gone wildly, irreparably off-course. I say this because Jeremy Evans has been on the Jazz roster for three years, since being drafted, and I cannot, on demand, recall his jump shot.
Jeremy Evans’ Everything Else: There’s a seductive beauty in unrealized identity, in not quite knowing what something is or isn’t. It’s why you can be happy in the first two weeks of a fundamentally flawed relationship with a pretty girl who might be crazy, or vindictive, or manipulative, and that happiness is valid. It may be fleeting, but it’s legitimate, because the not-knowing is beautiful all by itself. This is the place Jeremy Evans has lived for the last three years. The dunk contests and the paintings and the likable, choir-boy interview persona have perhaps made him comfortable there, comfortable as anyone can be just right of the spotlight. But we deceive ourselves if we think we know who he is, even in the limited way we can know a basketball player. I could proffer forth some vague conjectures like “poor man’s Serge Ibaka,” or “end-of-the-bench, towel-waving energy guy,” or perhaps more optimistically, “shot-blocking, electrically high-flying Dunkbot.” But they’d be speculative, and even if any of them could be true, even if they were Potential Jeremey Evanses in Hibernation, softly, blissfully snoring through their DNP-CD’s, they would still be foresight, and not sight. Because what I see when I see Jeremy Evans is still so unknown and uncharted that to say anything about him but just that–that I have no freakin’ clue what this guy would look like on a basketball court for 25 minutes a game–would be nothing more than your everyday, internet writer brand of hubris.
Jeremy Evans, Maybe: I suspect that he’s probably bad. That we don’t want to know what 25 minutes a game of Jeremy Evans looks like, that maybe we’ll get on Twitter fifty games into this season and half of the Jazz fans we follow have turned on him faster, and harder, and more viciously than any of them ever turned on Mo Williams or Paul Millsap. That who he was against Portland in Boise is who he will always be. But time passes and we keep rocketing through it, discovering stuff all the way: our gorgeous girlfriend likes to sleep with a python in her bed and she loathes our best friend, our favorite spambot Twitter account isn’t actually a spambot, Harry Potter really is over forever, and Jeremy Evans is a terrible NBA player. We’ll always have those moments, right before we learned how our dad did the magic trick or right before the opening crawl of Star Wars: Episode I began rolling, when things were still as great as we wanted them to be. But maybe we should have enjoyed them more. With Jeremy Evans at least, I think we did.