The Trail Blazers offseason is upon us, and the 2018 NBA Draft will provide Portland with an opportunity to supplement its roster with a talented youngster. With only the No. 24 pick at their disposal on draft night, the Blazers will be looking to strike gold by finding a NBA-worthy prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Today we will be looking at a potential two-way threat in Cincinnati wing Jacob Evans.
- Height: 6’6”
- Weight: 210
- Wingspan: N/A
- Shoots: Right
- Position: SG
- Age: 20
- Projected draft range: 21-32
- PPG: 13.0 | Per 40: 16.9
- RPG: 4.7 | Per 40: 6.1
- APG: 3.1 | Per 40: 4.1
- STL: 1.3 | Per 40: 1.7
- FG%: 42.7
- 3P%: 37.0
Armed with an NBA-ready frame, Evans has all the tools to blossom into a two-way perimeter player. While some of his offensive skills might need some fine tuning, the 20-year-old guard’s ability to find success in transition should translate to the next level without a hitch. Whether it is pushing the ball up the court or filling the correct lane, Evans is a legitimate threat to produce fastbreak points. In halfcourt sets, the former Bearcat plays within himself. Finding open teammates, limiting turnovers, and hitting wide open 3-pointers are just a trio of traits he brings to the table. Let’s not kid ourselves, though, as Evans’ true potential is on the defensive side of the ball. Given his frame and instincts, he should be able to cover both guard positions without any major setbacks. Along with backcourt players, Evans should be able to cover some small forwards and could even give some power forwards trouble in short bursts. On top of his solid on-ball defense, the Louisiana native has a penchant for creating highlight-worthy blocks when helping in the paint.
It could take considerable time for Evans to develop his offensive game in halfcourt sets. His shooting motion begins at waist level, which will make it tough for him to create opportunities in tight windows. While he is cable of finishing in the paint, he is definitely the type of player that will make the majority of his plays beneath the rim. When facing the length of NBA defenses, Evans could struggle to replicate the same sort of inside scoring success he had at Cincinnati. Even with his defensive gifts, he does run the risk of being a non-factor on one end of the court due to his lack of polish on offense.
Despite a slight dip in his shooting percentages, Evans still managed to lead Cincinnati in points per game last season. The Bearcats recorded a stellar 31-5 record behind the reliable play of their 20-year-old shooting guard. Evans recorded 24 points and 8 rebounds in a victory over Mississippi State in December, which marked his best outing of his 2017-18 campaign. Despite nabbing the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Cincinnati was sent home early with a loss to the Nevada Wolfpack in their second postseason outing.
The NBA covets 3-and-D players, and Evans’ potential to become one is unmistakable. His defense and hustle should allow him to see minutes early in his career, but teams will have to be patient with his offense. Guarding fully-developed forwards could be cumbersome at first, but the 6-foot-6 wing will be able to handle most backcourt assignments. Tinkering with shooting mechanics can be a dangerous game, which could limit Evans’ ceiling as a true floor stretcher. Even with that in mind, there are worse fates than being a defense-first perimeter player that can periodically hit wide open shots from beyond the arc.
It shouldn’t be hard for Evans to find the first-round promise that he covets by May 30. In the rare case that his list of suitors is shorter than expected, the 20-year-old has kept a possible return to Cincinnati on the table by not hiring an agent.
Defensive flexibility in the backcourt should always be a priority for Portland as long as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are on the roster. Both players made strides last season, but Evans has the potential to make an impact immediately with his ability to guard either backcourt position. Another potential bonus comes in the form of the Blazers’ offensive scheme, as Evans could see plenty of uncontested three-point shots. If he has time and space, he should be able to convert from NBA distance. Outside of halfcourt sets, the former Bearcat’s transition offense might be underutilized at the Blazers’ current pace of play.
Do you want to see Evans in a Trail Blazers jersey next season? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com