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Jacob Evans is still figuring it out

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Evans’ rookie year has revealed a tough transition to make.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When Jacob Evans was selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, many expected him to get minutes with the Warriors right away. Given the lack of wing depth on the roster, the older rookie had a good chance to play immediately among the Warriors’ stars.

A solid defender with decent playmaking skills, Evans can fulfill the role of a complementary 3-D wing. Somebody that’s useful on both ends becomes incredibly useful in the playoffs, where weaknesses are exploited mercilessly. The plan is that he can support the other stars on the Warriors with spacing, consistent defensive play, and smart passing.

But so far, Evans has disappointed. He recently said, “None of it has been how I thought it would be. But that’s how everything is when you’re going through it.”

Similarly, assistant coach Willie Green still has confidence in Evans. “He’s making tremendous strides,” he says, “what I saw in Summer League was a kid that really understands the game. He can see what we call ‘the pictures.’ He can read defenses. He can read the pictures on offense.”

However, the one thing that seems to be limiting Evans most is his jump shot. Case in point, Evans hit the first three of his NBA career in Thursday’s game against the Houston Rockets.

Evans off to a rocky start as a scorer

In Summer League, his jumper looked awkward and had a distinct hitch. So far in both the NBA and G-League, where he’s spent some time on assignment, he has shot quite poorly — Evans is currently 3-for-14 overall in 59 minutes and 1-for-3 from beyond the arc.

One would assume Evans’ other skills should translate to the NBA once he gets his scoring confidence, so a lot really depends on his ability to score. Yet without a jumper, he just doesn’t have the space to drive to the basket or make the right passes.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said a couple of weeks ago that he’s not worried about Evans’ shooting woes, as reported by Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“The good thing with Jacob is he shot the ball pretty well in college, and he’s got a nice touch,” Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said Friday. “He’s putting in a ton of work, and it’s going to get better. That’s what happens when it becomes your job, and you just shoot over and over every day.”

But the effects of an injury could also be playing a role.

Could an injury have affected Evans’ shot?

According to Green, Evans injured his hand earlier this year while still in college, and played through it. “Because of that, it caused him to catch the ball weirdly”, he says, “we’re just trying to get him catching the ball and having a seamless transition from the catch to the release. That’s what he struggled with when he first got here.”

Evans himself talked about it here, after his first Summer League game:

This is a little alarming, given the current consternation regarding Markelle Fultz’s shot, which he essentially lost once he turned pro. It’s also a little reminiscent of Patrick McCaw’s decline last season, where he basically became invisible on both ends. But Evans’ career is still young, he’s in a good organization, and doesn’t have the pressure to succeed immediately.

Evans is still upbeat about his future. “With this being the NBA, I never know what to expect but its been fun so far – a lot of learning and just working on my game and just trying to watch and get better every day.”

Once he figures out his jumper, he should be ready for some NBA minutes. We’re all rooting for him.