On July 25th, the Detroit Pistons announced via their Twitter account that they’ve officially signed former Texas Tech wing Keenan Evans to a two-way deal. Although this announcement is recent, the move has been in the works for a while as the Pistons pulled Evans from the Warriors’ Summer League team before the Vegas event was to begin. However, he didn’t play in Vegas as the 6’5 guard was still rehabbing from a foot surgery that took place shortly after his senior season ended.
During his final year with Texas Tech, Evans impressed as he put up 17.6 points, 3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 47% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc. Despite those perimeter woes, he still maintained a great 60% True Shooting Percentage. Evans’ solid efficiency came from his success at the free throw line as he shot 82% on 6.7 free throw attempts per game, which placed him 2nd in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma guard Trae Young.
Evans’ ability to draw fouls on a consistent basis comes from how he’s an extremely quick guard with great acceleration that can also change speeds on a dime. Those traits caused nightmares for opposing teams which ultimately forced them to foul Smith before he’d cause any more offensive trouble.
Unsurprisngly, the skills that he uses to draw fouls also allow Evans to be a fantastic on-ball driver. That aforementioned acceleration is vital in this equation as his blazing quick first step gives him the power to drive past any defender that are trying to guard him. After that initial victory, Evans really shines as his speed and knack for changing directions on a dime made him into a nearly unbeatable force. Those traits allowed him to shoot a solid 63% at the rim, according to The Stepien’s shot charts.
A great example of Evans’ work as an on-ball driver is seen in the clip below as he had an opportunity to work against former Texas star and current Orlando Magic rookie Mohamed Bamba. Despite Bamba being a pretty mobile 7’1 big that can work against guards, he was no match for Evans. After lulling the current Magic center to sleep with some nifty dribble moves, Evans motors his way past Bamaba as he drives to the rim and finishes with a right-handed layup.
Although he finished with his right on that play, Evans doesn’t seem to have a preference as he can drive to the rim with either hand.
Aside from his great work as an on-ball driver, another way that Evans can cause havoc on offense is as a shooter, whether he’s working from inside or outside the perimeter. At least during the senior season, his best work came as a mid-range shooter as he shot 48% on shots from 13 feet to the NCAA 3-point line. Evans’ efficiency comes from him maintaining a combination of a solid shooting stroke and a lethal step-back move that shook a lot of opponents out of their sneakers.
The praise that comes from analyzing his mid-range game changes when you go outside the perimeter as he shot an inefficient 32% from beyond the arc on 4.2 perimeter attempts per game. His struggles are surprising as Evans has solid mechanics, decent range on his shot and can work in both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble. In addition to those strengths, he shot 43% from 3 on 3.8 attempts per game during his junior season which makes his issues as a senior even more confusing.
One part of Evans’ work that isn’t confusing would be his faciliting. By just looking at basic stats, his work wouldn’t seem too impressive as he just averaged 3.2 assists with a solid 1.7 Ast/TO ratio. However, when he watch him actually play, you see the upside that he possess as a distributor.
Despite how great he is as an on-ball driver, most of his assists came when Evans was working on the perimeter. His skills there is solid as Evans does a nice job of being able to quickly spot open teammates and being patient with his pick-and-roll partner. An example of that second option is seen in the play below as he throws a precise pass to his roll man despite being locked in a double-team.
Aside from his inconsistency as a perimeter shooter, Evans stands as a pretty well-rounded that can be relied upon to contribute in a variety of ways from on-ball driving, facilitating and mid-range shooting. So although the 6’5 guard might be a work in progress as a perimeter threat when Evans makes his way to the G League, his other skills should allow him to be an exciting player when he plays with the Grand Rapids Drive later this year.