Jawun Evans: Point Guard – Oklahoma State, turns 21 in July
Measurables: 5-11, 185 lbs., 6-5.5 wingspan (NBA Draft Combine)
Strengths: Handles, Playmaking, Motor, Aggression, Pick-and-Roll Offense
Weaknesses: Size, Shooting, Limited Upside, Can only guard PG’s
Conclusion: The NBA Draft Combine is supposed to give prospects the platform to shine and impress scouts, but lately the top prospects have skipped out citing a lack of interest to be dissected like Kevin Durant infamously was for struggling to get any bench reps in. Jawun Evans is not one such prospect, but having measured in at under 5-11 without shoes he’s already in the unenviable position of having to prove to scouts that his game tape and intangibles surpass any physical limitations that he may have in the league. In terms of scoring production in his draft class he is on par with the lottery projected lead guards with 26 points per 40, first among PG’s. He does most of his damage in transition and in the pick-and-roll, two areas in the game that usually translate to modern NBA offenses. Jawun is able to find his spots when given space as well as use high picks to generate mid-range jumpers or precise passes to a rolling big. Although his three-point percentage has been solid at the college level, he will need significant work on expanding his range to the NBA line. What really stands out about Evans are some of his intangibles, which don’t necessarily show up in box scores. His motor is always running and he goes from 0-100 in the open floor like some of the quickest players in the NBA. On defense he is physically over-matched but still plays with an edge. Aggressiveness comes naturally to him, but he still stays within the flow of the game. Ideally he’d land on the second unit of a playoff team that pushes the ball and plays with pace, perhaps providing a legitimate backup option to Westbrook on the Thunder with the 21st pick?
Reminds me a lot of Ty Lawson in his prime on the Nuggets – with shifty gear changes and the quickness to get by larger defenders. Another reasonable comparison is a smaller but quicker Jeff Teague because their touch on the floater is very similar. His role with the Cowboys was to be the primary scorer and playmaker, which may have actually hidden his sterling passing ability, as he was not asked to be a pass-first point guard. His turnover percentage was very low and he led all PG’s in assist percentage. I’m particularly impressed with his PnR vision. This translates to a flexible PG option that can contribute as both a scorer and a passer depending on the options around him. Off the ball, he will be limited to catch and shoot, which mitigates his strengths. And his backcourt mates will have to be long and tall guards that can switch on defense – as his miniature size will prevent him from being a stout defender. As long as Evans is playing on-ball defense outside of the paint he can really get into his opponents face and force turnovers with quick hands and consistent effort. Anyone with length that is catching and shooting, or posting him up, will feel comfortable taking advantage of his lack of length. My biggest concern is whether he develops a consistent outside shot. There has not been a big enough sample size to reach a conclusion, but his form is awkward and there has yet to be a positive trend in his shooting stroke. Finishing in the paint against length will be a difficult proposition as well which means his scoring opportunities will be limited to mid-range shots and floaters, not exactly the trend in the NBA right now. Throw in the fact that with his slight stature his defensive upside is very limited, it doesn’t seem like there is any path for Evans to become a primary option on a good NBA team.
Without a real glimmer of a hope for Jawun to become a star in the league there is very little chance he sneaks into the lottery, but he should still be a value pick later in the first round – especially if scouts project him into a very solid rotational guard role like the aforementioned Lawson and Teague in their respective primes. Don’t be surprised if some team falls in love with him and takes him earlier than expected, as I had the Bucks snagging him at No. 17 in my most recent mock.