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Jawun Evans — 6’1″ Point Guard, Oklahoma State University, 20 Years Old
Jawun Evans is a dynamic score-first point guard who has entered the 2017 NBA Draft after two seasons at Oklahoma State. Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Evans averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 assists, and 1.7 steals in his sophomore season, leading the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament as a #10 seed. Although he is considered undersized by NBA standards, Evans’ fearless style of play has him projected to go late in the first round of this June’s Draft.
Evans’ explosiveness off the dribble and finishing prowess around the rim make him a nightmare to defend. He can score with both hands, uses the glass effectively to finish over opposing bigs, and has excellent touch on runners and floaters in the lane, all of which made Evans one of the NCAA’s premier offensive threats last season. But despite his label as a ‘score-first’ point guard, Evans has also displayed an ability to penetrate into the heart of the defense, draw defenders, and find the open man. As a result, he posted 6.5 assists in only 29.3 minutes per game last season, more than a number of point guards slated as lottery picks including Dennis Smith Jr. (6.2), Markelle Fultz (5.9), and De’Aaron Fox (4.6). On the defensive end of the floor, Evans is an above average on-ball defender and plays with high energy, making him a complete two-way player.
As is always the case with smaller guards, Evans lack of size at 6’1″ is going to be a concern transitioning to the NBA. While a number of undersized point guards have had success in the past, many find it difficult adjusting to bigger defenders, and this is especially noteworthy for Evans given his score-first style of play. In order for Evans to be effective, he will need to refine his mid-range game and expand upon his already-impressive array of finishes attacking the basket. Additionally, Evans must improve his three-point stroke after shooting 37.6% from distance last season. In what has become a triphecta-heavy league, the ability to step back beyond the arc with consistency is a dimension Evans needs to add to his game in order to keep defenders honest and become a go-to scorer at the next level.
Score-first point guards are becoming more and more common across the league, which only plays into Evans favor going into the Draft. Given his skillset and athletic ability, Evans has the potential to become a starting caliber point guard in the NBA, with possible all-star upside. In order to become elite at the position he will have to develop his passing, decision-making, and three-point shot, but Evans certainly proved at the college level that has the right makeup to lead an offence. While the consensus among scouts is that Evans is not in the same class as other top point guards in the Draft like Fultz, Fox, Smith, and Lonzo Ball, he has an opportunity to be a great value pick later in the first round of what is considered to be one of the deepest and most talented Draft classes in recent years.
NBA Player Comparison
Evans has the tools to play a very similar style to Kemba Walker and Eric Bledsoe. Like Walker, Evans is at his best attacking the basket in transition, using speed and athleticism to get all the way to the rim. The 6’1″ Walker is also a great example of a later-blooming superstar who took the time to develop in college, entering the 2011 Draft after his Junior season at UConn as opposed to going ‘one-and-done’. Bledsoe, meanwhile, is also listed at 6’1″, but his athleticism and aggression has mitigated that size limitation. Despite struggling from behind the arc when he entered the league, Bledsoe has put a great deal of work into his three-point shot, which he has improved enough to force defenders to respect it. In addition, Evans and Bledsoe both share large wingspans for their size and have quick, active hands, allowing them to be disruptive defending on the perimeter. Finally, both Walker and Bledsoe see the floor well and are underrated distributors of the basketball despite being counted on primarily to score by their respective clubs. All in all, Walker and Bledsoe have proven that undersized score-first point guards do in fact have a place in today’s game, and can provide a great deal of value running the point for an NBA franchise.