CANDIDATES

Stephen Curry, Warriors, point guard

Season stats: 35.9 minutes, 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.79 steals, 3.0 turnovers, percentages (.455, .417, .878)
March stats: 41.0 minutes, 19.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 4.4 turnovers, percentages (.405, .484, .923)
Tuesday’s game: Did not play
Next game: Thursday, March 11, vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 7:30 p.m.

Tyreke Evans, Kings, guard

Season stats: 37.2 minutes, 20.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.51 steals, 2.88 turnovers, percentages (.462, .259, .744)
March stats: 38.8 minutes, 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 2.8 turnovers, percentages (.416, .273, .618)
Tuesday’s game (Trail Blazers 88, Kings 81): 43 minutes, 18 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, (8-19, 0-1, 2-3)
Next game: Wednesday, March 10, vs. Toronto Raptors, 7 p.m.

Darren Collison, Hornets, guard

Season stats: 24.8 minutes, 11.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.03 steals, 2.48 turnovers, percentages (.465, .358, .840)
March stats: 45.5 minutes, 18.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 12.8 assists, 2.5 steals, 4.3 turnovers, percentages (.569, .500, .667)
Tuesday’s game: Did not play
Next game: Wednesday, March 10, at Oklahoma City Thunder, 5 p.m.

Worth noting: I watched about half of Tuesday night’s Blazers-Kings game and came away with the following observations about Tyreke Evans:

He’s big, strong and fast — a difficult combination. Smaller guards have trouble keeping him out of the lane and stopping him from scoring. For example, in last night’s game, he was great when Rudy Fernandez or Jerryd Bayless was guarding him, he played decent when Brandon Roy was guarding him and he struggled when Nicolas Batum was guarding him. Get a big guard or a long, quick forward to defend him and you can slow him down.

He’s very good in the open court. There was one play in particular when Evans took it on a fast break drive against two Blazers defenders who were waiting for him. He made a had-to-see-it spin move to get past the first defender and then was able to control his body enough to sweep in a layup while leaning away from the basket in order to avoid the long arms of the second defender. It was so impressive I played back the tape twice.

He has no outside shot. If you’re defending Evans, you want him shooting outside shots. It’s when he can break down a defender and get into the lane that he’s most dangerous. The thing about Evans that is impressive is he doesn’t have an inflated sense of self. He knows his strengths and plays to them. He doesn’t shoot very often from outside — that’s not his strength and he knows it.

Portland’s young forward from France, Nicolas Batum, guarded Evans in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game and was effective, as Evans made only 2 of 7 shots in the final frame. Batum made an interesting comment to the Oregonian about Evans after the game:

“You know, he can play a little bit. I tried to play him like I play Tony Parker — he wants to drive first, not a great shot yet — they are same type of player. So just try to make him take shots from the outside and keep him out of the paint.”

I had never thought of Evans like that. I had always thought of him more in the mold of Brandon Roy or a less-talented LeBron James, even. But Parker is a good comparison (and Batum should know, Parker is his countryman and friend). Parker, like Evans, has a questionable outside shot (though he has improved in the past couple seasons) and is much more likely to try and penetrate the lane where he can score or create for a teammate. Evans’ potential ceiling then, might be a bigger, more physical version of Tony Parker. That’s frightening.