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Best case/worst case: Jacob Evans III

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Will it be a strong sophomore campaign for Evans, or another tough year?

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

With the NBA season starting this week, we’re running through mini previews of the Golden State Warriors’ 16 players, focusing on what their best and worst case scenario is for the upcoming year. Next up is the Warriors lone draft pick from 2018: Jacob Evans III. You can check out the other best case/worst case articles below:

Ky Bowman
Alec Burks
Willie Cauley-Stein
Marquese Chriss
Stephen Curry

Preseason stats

5 games, 6.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game

28.0% 2FG, 50.0% 3FG, 100% FT, 44.9% true-shooting

2018-19 stats (Warriors)

30 games, 1.3 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.8 assists per game

36.8% 2FG, 26.7% 3FG, 0.00% FT, 37.4% true-shooting

Role on the 2019-20 Warriors

Shaun Livingston is gone. Quinn Cook is gone. But Jacob Evans III is here.

Drafted a year ago as a shooting guard, Evans spent the summer transitioning to point guard. No sooner had the Toronto Raptors confetti been cleared from Oracle Arena when coach Steve Kerr declared that Evans would get backup point guard minutes in 2019-20.

No one knew at the time that the team would acquire D’Angelo Russell. Backup point guard isn’t quite as important of a position as it seemed, since Russell and Steph Curry will stagger minutes.

But Evans is the only point guard on the bench, and he’ll be given an opportunity to contribute. The Warriors spent the final preseason games running Evans out to start the second and fourth quarters while Curry rested. Evans will likely hold that role as the season starts, and it will expand or decline based on his performance.

Best case scenario

We know Evans can play defense. And we know there’s some playmaking in him.

What we don’t know is if he can shoot. If he can, his best case scenario quickly becomes a versatile bench guard who can play three positions, and provide a little bit of everything to a team lacking in playable depth.

Evans was a decent shooter in college, going 37.7% from beyond the arc, and 75.5% from the charity stripes. Those numbers fell way off last year, both with Golden State and the G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors, as the young guard developed a hitch in his shooting motion.

He spent the summer trying to fix that. His shot looks better, and the results so far have been hit and miss: His overall shooting percentage hasn’t been good, but he went 4-for-8 from deep, and 6-for-6 on free throws this preseason. Small sample size to be sure, but a quality shooting season is the best case for Evans.

If he can be a reliable shooter, he’s an instant asset on this team, and play 15-20 minutes a night, while giving Kerr more confidence to rest Curry from time to time.

Worst case scenario

We saw Evans’ worst case scenario last year.

Now, the Warriors fanbase was a little too hard on Evans in 2018-19, and I think some people forgot how hard it is to find NBA-ready talent at the back of the first round. So there’s only so much pessimism we should have based on a lackluster rookie year.

But the worst case scenario was on display: No jumper, no ability to penetrate past the initial line of defense, and a defensive effort that is maybe compromised by the offensive struggles.

If Evans proves incapable of playing minutes this year, that puts more and more pressure on rookie Jordan Poole to step up, and that’s not exactly the position the Warriors want to be in. It also means the Warriors will go into next offseason needing to find a way to replace what they hoped to get from Evans.