Finally, yesterday, the Clippers were able to officially announce the trade in which they acquired the draft rights to Jawun Evans from the Philadelphia 76ers. As such, it’s fitting that today we’ll be running a Q&A with Oklahoma State blogger Cade Webb, discussing Evans.
This piece was originally planned to run the Wednesday before free agency opened—but due to the news storm that surrounded Chris Paul’s decision to be traded to the Houston Rockets and the whirlwind of free agency news that followed, it was delayed. Now, with the Clippers’ summer league campaign beginning today and Evans officially becoming a Clipper, it seems fitting to give Clippers fans a chance to see Cade’s insights on the rookie.
Lucas Hann: Evans is definitely undersized for the NBA, measuring at 5'11.5" in shoes at the combine, but he's exceptionally fast and has a 6'5.5" wingspan. Does his athleticism help hide his height while he's on the court?
Cade Webb: He certainly plays bigger than 5'11. That said, it's much tougher in the NBA to hide those issues. His long arms and speed help him in excel in the fast break and in the lane. He didn't finish at the rim particularly well in college, simply due to the fact that he was undersized and that's one thing about his game that I don't expect to change for him in the NBA.
Lucas: Jawun has a really unique and impressive arsenal of finishes in the paint, demonstrating exceptional touch on floaters and scoop shots. Still, he was one of the worst interior finishers in the draft at 45% and his size will likely impose further limits in that area at the next level. How does he project as a slashing, driving guard?
Cade: In the right offense, I think he could be a decent slashing guard. He is much quicker and tougher to guard in the fastbreak than in the half court. That said, he has sneaky good handles and with some good development, he could become a solid driving guard. His size will always be an issue for him, but he has no trouble getting into the lane; it's finishing once he got there that became troublesome for him.
Lucas: While Jawun was definitely comfortable shooting the college three (37.6% on 3 attempts per game), there are some questions around his shot at the pro level. Did he ever demonstrate NBA range on his pull-up or catch-and-shoot jumpers? Do you think that there's room for growth in that part of his game?
Cade: One of my favorite parts, and probably the most underrated one, of his game is his jump shot off the dribble. He excels in that area, and he didn't get enough credit for it. Evans can pour it in from the wing, at the top of the key, and beyond the arc with ease. He is quite solid in isolation situations, and does well keeping the defense on its toes by mixing up the ways he scores. I don't recall ever being blown away by his range, and he doesn't have an "anywhere in the gym" jumper, but he's certainly capable of dropping a 30 spot on any given night. He's a joy to watch operate on offense.
Lucas: How does Evans project as a defender? He has a good reputation as a two-way player and the speed and wingspan are great signs.
Cade: His reputation as a two-way player is warranted, but don't expect him to lead the league in steals every year like CP3 (sorry guys). His lateral quickness is one thing that could use some work. In a straight line, he's as fast as they come. He's got quick hands and reads the dribble well. The term "cookies" was adapted for basketball for the way Evans plays defense. That being said. when it comes to guarding someone straight up, he isn't elite. He's no slouch on the defensive end, but as someone who watched every minute of his college career, I wasn't blown away by his defensive prowess. I think he's got loads of potential on that end of the floor, though, as long as he can overcome the height issue in the league.
Lucas: A lot of tiny NBA guards find themselves out of the league after a few years because they tend to over-penetrate, using their speed to get into the lane but finding themselves in bad situations and either turning the ball over or forcing shots. I've noticed in some film that Jawun does tend to drive first and think second, sometimes making excellent plays and sometimes getting himself into trouble. Did you notice him develop improved discipline and selectiveness during his two years at Oklahoma State?
Cade: I'm not sure I would say that his discipline improved, rather than I think his game developed. Even in the NCAA Tournament game against Michigan, Jawun made a few plays that would make you scratch your head. The thing about him, though, is that he'd come down the floor the next possession and drop a dime. He's a true talent with a few raw edges, in my opinion. If he can learn to play under control and not force the action, he's got the skills to play in the NBA for years. But you're exactly right; if he stays a "drive first, think second" guard in the league, he won't last. His greatest asset is driving in the lane, and with the proper tutilege, he could be a point guard in the mold of Chris Paul. Put the right guys around Jawun, and he will success greatly.