In Jeremy Evans last game in college he played 33 minutes and scored 6 points in a 54-48 loss against Troy. That performance wasn’t very far off from his average since he only scored 10 points per game for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Leaving that game, I wonder if Evans thought if maybe that was the last time he was going to play basketball. Certainly playing overseas would be an option for a 6-9 forward with his athleticism, but if we was looking at any mock drafts or NBA draft previews he probably came to the realization that the NBA wasn’t in his immediate future.
However, the Jazz drafted him with the 55th pick of the 2010 draft. This was notable for a few reasons. One is that the Jazz passed over more accomplished players like Jon Scheyer or Jeremy Lin in favor for what looked to be a player best described as a small fish in a small pond. The 2nd reason it was notable was because the Jazz have been known for drafting 2nd round gems like Mo Williams, C.J. Miles and Paul Millsap. For some reason it seems like 2nd round or undrafted players (Wes Matthews) respond well to Coach Sloan and the Jazz system. I don’t know if it is because they work harder or are just underrated by the NBA draft system. For those two reasons I was interested in find out more about Evans.
My interest in Evans soon turned to disappointment after I started looking over his college stats. Really the Jazz were going to take a guy, who scored 7.9 points per game for Western Kentucky? He wasn’t even listed in any pre-draft articles I read about possible 2nd round picks. If I remember correctly, I don’t remember him even making Chad Ford’s top 100 players.
However, things started happening that reaffirmed my faith in the Jazz management’s ability to select 2nd round steals. One thing that impressed me the most was this article on David Berri’s The Wages of Wins Journal. The title was “Blake Griffin Might Rank Among the All-Time Best Rookies (and John Wall probably won’t.” I encourage you to read the entire thing, especially considering his prediction on Blake Griffin seems to be spot on. Below is what Mr. Berri wrote about Jeremy Evan’s impressive numbers:
As good as Evan Turner might be, Landry Field and Jeremy Evans might be even more productive. Both of these players, though, were taken in the second round. And given the link between draft position and minutes played (those taken later play less), it is possible neither will play enough to make much of a difference for their respective teams.
The season has started and so far Berri seems correct on most things. He even followed up on Evans and the Jazz yesterday in a post on his blog found here. Fields and Evans have been posting incredible Win Share numbers. While Fields has leveled off a little bit his total WS/48 minutes is still 0.109, which is still really good for a 2nd round pick. The Knicks have rewarded such production with the 2329 minutes. Jeremy Evans has produced an even better WS/48 of 0.185. If he had played enough minutes that would be good enough to be the 17th best in the NBA. However, Evans doesn’t play enough minutes and it isn’t even close. He is 13th on the team in minutes with only 344 minutes played. Considering the Jazz have played 74 games, that means Evans has only played on average 4.6 minutes per game.
What does this all mean? Probably nothing. Evans is probably one of those backup players, whose numbers would come down to earth if he played more minutes. But what if the numbers did mean something? What if he really is that productive of player. Could Evans be that missing piece in Utah’s frontcourt? Imagine a frontline of Jefferson, Millsap, Okur and Evans. Could that matchup with the Gasol, Bynum and Odom? If it comes down to beating the Lakers then this team stands a better chance then any team with Boozer playing meaningful minutes. Jefferson has more size to defend Gasol and Evans has both the size and quickness to at least stand a chance against Odom. I know I am probably being too optimistic, especially considering how poorly the Jazz have played since trading Deron Williams, but at this low point it is nice to look for a few positives.
In the interest of fairness below are the plus/minuses of Jeremy Evans
- Plus - Great advanced stats. A PER of 20.6 and a WS/48 of 0.185 are both the best on the current team.
- Minus - No idea if those advanced stats would continue if he played more minutes.
- Plus - Lot of potential considering he is only a rookie.
- Minus- He is already 23 years old. To give you some perspective Paul Millsap had played over 3,000 minutes in the NBA before his 23rd birthday. That’s a little more than the 344 minutes Evans has played.
- Plus - He has made 68% of his shots. This isn’t that unusual for him considering his career low field goal % in college was 62.5%. He might not take a lot of shots, but when he does he makes them at an impressive rate.
- Minus – Not a good shooter as evidenced by his free throw %. In college he shot 68% from the line and so far in the NBA he is only shooting 68%. Without some type of shot improvement it is hard to see him being a reliable scoring option.
- Plus - Have you seen that athleticism? The play the Jazz run where Evans spins to the goal and the point guard throws an alley-oop to him is one of the most visually pleasing sights in the NBA.
- Minus - That seems like the only way Evans scores. He doesn’t have any post moves and relies too much on one single play that consists of him catching the ball and dunking it. He needs some more complexity to his game, since I have to believe that most teams are going to wise up on how to defend him.
- Plus- From looking at his +/- he is the 2nd best player on the team with a net positive of 9.8.
- Minus – The strong +/- might just be a combination of a small sample size combined with the fact that when Evans is playing might also be the time when the other team’s backups are also playing.
- Plus - Evans PER advantage over the other ‘s team power forward is a +12.6. In other words based on the stats he is dominating his competition.
It is hard to know if Evans can be a big contributor to the Jazz without him playing more minutes. From the few minutes he has played it looks like he can help the team out. I am curious to find out more about the potential of Jeremy Evans.