By now, unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere in the Maldives, you know that Tyreke Evans has spent countless hours during the offseason and into the season working on his jump shot. A shot, unless explained to you, you’d think Evans would or should have in his bag of tricks. Now here’s the explanation.
Let’s, for a moment, compare Evans to another primary ball-handler from his college days, Jimmer Fredette.
Fredette was in an offense that had him not only as the primary ball-handler, but as its main scorer too. His money shot was from the outside – a silky, smooth jumper – from anywhere on the court!
Evans didn’t have to hone his jumper, as in college no one could keep him from charging the hoop for a rim-rattling power dunk or a whirling dervish magical lay-in.
Fredette sees the improvement in Evans’ jumper, but at the same time, understands that it’s a work in progress.
“The biggest thing is that sometimes he still hesitates, but he’s not hesitating as much,” Fredette said. “He just has to trust in his jump shot. You got to come off a screen and if you’re open, shoot the ball. Don’t even hesitate. That mindset will get you to where you’re not thinking about it and you’re just shooting the basketball. I think you’ll get better results that way.”
Fredette went on to explain the mental aspects of shooting.
“It’s got to be more of a natural thing. Shooting is a lot mental. A lot of people shoot the ball really well in practice and they can make a hundred in a row. But once you get out in the game, you start thinking about it. That’s why you can’t shoot the ball as well. You really have to just relax, let your mind go and just shoot the basketball and not worry about the miss or make you just had.
“You gotta have short-term memory loss and not worry about that next shot. Just go to the next one and once you see one go in, things can completely change. You just have to be confident in yourself.”
This seems to be where Evans’ head is at now – gaining confidence.
“My shot is looking good right now,” Evans said. “It’s falling a little bit so I’m shooting with confidence, that’s all I can keep doing.”
I tossed Evans a couple of possible reasons his shot had been hard to find, but one stood out as the main culprit: Falling backwards when rising for his jumper.
This is not as easy to adjust as one might think.
Evans had his way in college and even in his rookie year with the Kings. No one knew how to stop “‘Reke.” But now into his fourth year, most every opponent knows his modus operandi and has an answer to stop his incessant driving in the lane.
Now it’s up to him and his ability to fashion a reliable jumper to make his driving capabilities effective once again.
Evans has run into a wall of guys in the key so many times over the last three years that he had to start falling backwards to give his shot a chance to go in. The problem is that it started to become normal procedure for Evans. He started falling back on every shot he took which resulted in most of his jumpers ending up short.
Prior to the game, Evans was hard at work with Clifford Ray on coming off screens and keeping his form straight up and down when shooting his jumper.
“I have a habit of kicking my leg out,” Evans said. “I’m doing a better job at it. I think I did a good job tonight of going straight up and down and hopefully I can keep it that way.”
It paid off on Friday as Evans was 5-of-11, with the last shot being a “what the hell” three attempt. In essence, he shot 50 percent from the field. Not bad considering half of his attempts were from the outside.
Besides the tireless hours Evans has put in during the offseason honing his jumper, he often finds himself in the gym during the off-hours also.
“I just came in today shooting with confidence,” Evans continued. “I came here last night getting some shots up before the game. I just want to keep working on it because I know I can shoot. I also want to be aggressive and keep driving.”
Coach Keith Smart has noticed Evans’ shot getting better. At the same time, he reminds us that changing a guy’s habits takes longer than just a few games.
“He’s worked so hard and you can obviously see there is a change in his shot, his mechanics and delivery,” Smart said. “Now the biggest focus for him is, how do I harness my instinct – which is to drive and at the last minute take a shot while off-balanced – that’s what he’s wrestling with now.”
“We are taking a young man who is trying to do something completely different than he’s done his entire career and having him harness that instinct to not attempt to drive and just take the shot. He’s caught in between those two worlds right now.”
“Teams are going to still play him the same way right now,” Smart continued. “He may not have that complete part of his game for a month, maybe two months, maybe not until next year.”
What would Evans like to have accomplished in furthering his game by the end of the year?
“Be an improved shooter,” Evans said. “That’s the knock on me, so every day and every night I come back and work on my shot. The hard work you put in is what you get out. So that’s what I keep doing.”
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