One of the things I have tired of reading and hearing about is the ROY argument for Tyreke Evans that he’s one of only four NBA players to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in their rookie season. The other three are Michael Jordan (1984-85 season), Oscar Robertson (1960-61 season) and LeBron James (2003-04 season).
Technically, this argument is true. And that is an impressive stat, for sure. I’ve gone on record many times with my feelings about Evans. He’s a fantastic player, is only going to get better and will be a star — perhaps even a superstar — in this league for years. But to use MJ and Oscar as the main argument for his ROY supremacy is not fair to the legacy of Jordan and Robertson, two of the NBA’s most legendary players. It’s not fair to Evans to put him in the company of those two players right now. As far as the comparison to LeBron, we’ll touch on that in a minute.
Evans’ rookie season can’t compare to the rookie seasons of Jordan and Robertson. Here’s a look at the three players’ rookie seasons:
OR: 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.7 assists, .473 FG, .822 FT
MJ: 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, .515 FG, .845 FT
TE: 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists, .456 FG, .748 FT
There is a major statistical difference between the seasons of Jordan and Robertson and Evans’ season. I am aware that Robertson and Jordan played in different eras when teams played at faster paces, which could skew their stats upwards. But it’s not enough of an argument. It’s just not fair to Jordan and Robertson — and not fair to Evans either — to put Evans’ season up against theirs.
However, it’s hard to discount the comparison between Evans and LeBron. Look again at Evans stats and now look at LeBron’s rookie season (below):
LJ: 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, .417 FG, .754 FT
So similar it’s eerie. The only advantage, and it’s significant, is that LeBron improved the Cavaliers (17 wins to 35) more than Evans has improved the Kings (17 wins to 25 — with one to play). Other than that, the two players’ rookie seasons are equal. I think LeBron is the best player in the NBA right now. So, Evans’ potential is at least that of LeBron. That’s impressive. LeBron has improved immensely every season since. We’ll have to see the same improvement from Evans year after year for him to be in the same present class as LeBron.
Until then, let’s hold off on the comparisons to Jordan, Robertson and LeBron.