LAS VEGAS --
"I just look at myself as a basketball player," Evans said before Thursday's preseason game here against the Lakers. "I don't want to box myself in."
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Evans, the No. 4 pick in the draft after one season at Memphis, is among the most intriguing rookies in part because few know exactly how to label him. He even admits he didn't know what to call himself during predraft workouts.
It's understandable. Evans has played point guard consistently for less than a year, switching over to the position 11 games into his freshman season at Memphis. Evans nearly put up a triple-double in his first start at the point, and the Tigers didn't lose another game until falling to Missouri in the NCAA tournament.
He further allayed any concerns about handling the position with his performance in the NBA Summer League, where he had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists against the Warriors and fellow rookie guard
"Once I got on the floor, it was same as every other game I had played in," said Evans, who had 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in a 98-92 loss to the Lakers, during which
Even if Evans hadn't adjusted as quickly as he had, his sheer athleticism and potential would already be a drastic improvement over
Sacramento is not asking Evans to be a prototypical point guard in new coach
"He just needs to play the way he plays. We're not going to ask him to be the orchestrator of all things for this team," said Westphal, who likens Evans to a combination of
Evans says Westphal's offense is actually easier to run than Memphis' because of spacing that allows for more open shots. But growing pains are to be expected when a 20-year-old rookie gets the keys to an NBA team. Evans ranks in the top 15 in both assists and turnovers (3.3) during the preseason, which highlights his ability to be a playmaker, but, at times, also a poor decision-maker.
"Turnovers are always going to be an issue," Westphal said. "I'm sure he'll have some games where he turns it over more than he and we would like to, but it's all part of the learning process. You don't learn without being aggressive, and if you're aggressive, you're going to make some mistakes."
Evans displayed his versatility Thursday against the Lakers. He was all over the floor, stealing the ball from
"Tyreke can play three positions, but I've never seen a point guard like him," said Kings assistant coach
While Evans is soft-spoken on and off the court, answering questions in a sentence or two and taking instruction from coaches while nodding his head, his ability to lead the team has already been evident.
"Every time he walks out on the court, the veterans treat him with respect, as if he knows what he's doing," Westphal said. "There's only one or two guys a year who come into the league with that kind of presence. He looks he's been in the league for several years already. He just has a demeanor that inspires confidence from the coaching staff and other players.
"He certainly isn't a classic point guard, but he's going to make defenses make difficult decisions. Almost no point guard has the size to compete with him inside. Teams are going to have to figure out what to do with this guy."