Jacob Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati (2015-2018), before leaving after his junior year to declare for the NBA Draft. It was the right decision as he was a first round pick (#28),, drafting to the defending NBA Champions Golden State Warriors).
Evans had an up-and-down rookie season. I reached out to Duby Dub Dubs of Golden State of Mind to get a first hand impression of Evans rookie season and his expectations.
What did you know about Jacob Evans when he was drafted? Were you happy with the pick, at the time?
I knew nothing. As someone who doesn’t follow college basketball, I’m almost always in the dark about the players we have been drafting recently (because they tend to be low picks with less well-known results). Picked at number 28 by Golden State, the expectations were pretty low – after all, most players drafted that low don’t even stick in the league.
That said, yes, I was happy with the pick. We were aging worse than some of Draymond Green’s old tweets and needed help at the guard spots, specifically. So even not knowing what we were getting exactly, it was precisely the sort of flyer that teams can get lucky on, and it was a position of need for the team.
In hindsight, are you happy with the pick?
I mean… am I allowed to submit an “incomplete” grade here? You really can’t judge the value of the pick based off one year; all we can say is that the value wasn’t realized in that first season. But so what, right? Rookie Patrick McCaw averaged 15 minutes a night and 12 minutes in the playoffs but is mostly out of the league (on a team but not playing).
With Evans, we are just now getting to the point where he’ll have to show value or start getting pushed out. He only appeared in 30 games last season, for a grand total of around 200 minutes. In those minutes, he was not very successful – it parses out to around seven points, four rebounds, and four assists. So…not great.
But happiness isn’t defined by just these objective values, he did show some promising flashes and I am just delusional enough to convince myself maybe some of those little windows of adequacy could become more and more frequent as he gets more playing time and experience. He played 36 minutes in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans and turned in a well-rounded (if not especially dominant) performance: 11 points, five rebounds, 2 assists, three steals, and two blocks.
Just knowing he can contribute a bit is comforting.
How would you grade his rookie season on a scale of 1-10?
This may come off as jarring in light of my previous answer, but I’ll give him a 3. The problems were fairly wide-ranging: he’s not especially stout on defense, he doesn’t generate many assists, and his shooting was straight up awful (26% from deep, and an abysmal True Shooting percentage of .341 (a team worst).
Why do you think he didn’t see much playing time?
The door was open. With the departure of McCaw, all of our injuries all season, and the general aging of our bench ball handlers, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston it was a great opportunity for this young man – but he just couldn’t crack the rotation, even at the very bottom of the bench.
With so much roster shuffling and turnover this past summer, do you expect Evans to play a larger role in 2019-20? (especially with Klay Thompson out in the beginning of the season)
Yes, I really do, but he’s going to have to meet us in the middle and earn those minutes. As you note, Thompson will miss most of the season, and we also lost Iguodala and Livingston, as well as previous third string guard, Quinn Cook. All of this leaves a huge gaping hole in the backcourt, that not even D’Angelo Russel can fill.
Watch him early in the season. Kerr will give him minutes, because he’ll want to know what he’s working with. It’s going to be on Evans to show that he deserves to stay on the court. Whether it be offensively or defensively, he’s got to do something to make himself stand out.