Tyreke Evans following Derrick Rose’s lead


Dec 21

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By Adam Fluck

The comparisons between Derrick Rose and Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans were bound to happen.

Evans_091221 Both players attended the University of Memphis and played under John Calipari for a year before moving on to the NBA, where they were lottery picks in the annual draft—Rose was the top pick in 2008, while Evans was selected fourth overall the following summer. (Speaking of Calipari, the infusion of dominant guards to play for him into the league will almost certainly continue next summer, when Kentucky’s John Wall is a virtual lock to be the draft’s top pick.)

When it was time to select an agent, Rose hired former Bulls guard and three-time NBA champion B.J. Armstrong and Wasserman Media Group. A year later, Evans followed suit.

“At the end of the day, I thought they were the best fit for me so we made that decision,” Evans said of the process, in which his brother played a big role. “I’m happy with the decision I made. B.J. is a great guy and I learned a lot from my workouts with him. It was a good experience to be with him [in the offseason].”

Despite all of the similarities, though, Evans is quick to make a distinction between him and Rose.

“We’re two different players,” Evans said prior to the Kings facing the Bulls at the United Center on Monday. “He’s good at what he does and I’m good at what I do. I’m happy for both of us and the situations we’re in.”

As a rookie, Rose led the Bulls to the NBA Playoffs and gave the defending champion Boston Celtics all they could handle in an epic seven-game series. The Chicago native led first-year players in assists (6.3 apg) and was second among rookies in scoring (16.8 ppg), to go along with 3.9 rebounds in 37.0 minutes. He easily claimed Rookie of the Year honors.

Evans is on pace for an even more impressive season statistically speaking. The 6-6, 220-pound guard is averaging 20.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, and 5.1 apg through 25 regular season games. Evans is one of only four players currently averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists—Cleveland’s LeBron James, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Atlanta’s Joe Johnson are the others.

Even more remarkable, Evans is trying to become only the fourth player in NBA history to average 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in his rookie season. The three who accomplished this feat as a rookie are LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson.

“I try not to let that get to me,” Evans said of the hype. “I hear a lot of people talk about it or mention it to me, but I just want to focus on what happens on the court. I let my game speak for itself and I don’t want to get caught up looking at stats. It’s good that I’m in that category right now, but I’m just trying to stay focused.”

Former Bulls on parade

From Ben Gordon to Eddy Curry to Jamal Crawford, several familiar faces have found themselves back in Chicago recently, this time in the opposing locker room. Add Kings forward Andrés Nocioni to the list of former Bulls to return to the United Center this month.

“We’re playing really hard right now,” said Nocioni of the Kings. “We play together and we play like a team. We try to play good ‘D’ and we’re much better than last year for sure. Last year was really though, but this year we came in with a little energy and a young team. Everybody wants to win.”

Nocioni said his best memories from his time with the Bulls were of the postseason.

“I’m fine in Sacramento, I have no problem at all,” he said. “I like the team and I like the people there, but I miss Chicago. I really enjoyed the moments I had here.”

Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on his team’s demeanor, facing an improving Kings team, and the progress from Tyrus Thomas as he prepares to return from injury (12.21.09):

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