Shaun Livingston

Jacob Evans hopes to seize opportunity in second season with Warriors


Jacob Evans hopes to seize opportunity in second season with Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO – Of the seven players drafted by or for the Warriors between 2012 and 2018, only one has locked down a firm spot in the rotation.

While Kevon Looney has become an integral part of the team’s fabric, five of the others are playing elsewhere, if at all, as Ognjen Kuzmic, Nemanja Nedovic, Damian Jones, Patrick McCaw and Jordan Bell came and went.

Which brings us to the seventh man, Jacob Evans III, who was drafted 15 months ago and played a total of 204 minutes in his rookie season. The 6-foot-5 University of Cincinnati product enters training camp with a high goal set for himself in hoping to become the team’s third guard, replacing Shaun Livingston, who retired after five seasons in that role.

“Yeah, for sure,” Evans said Wednesday. “It’s a new team. I’ve had a year under my belt, so I know the offense pretty well. None of what we’re doing is really new, so I just want to add more to my game. I feel I have an advantage, a good chance of being that third guard.”

That would make him the first guard off the bench, replacing D’Angelo Russell or Stephen Curry. Another candidate is rookie Jordan Poole, whose forte is scoring, whereas it has become apparent that Evans, at this stage of his career, is more natural at point guard.

If Evans can’t crack an eight-man rotation now, when there are no fewer than three vacancies, the team’s player personnel department may have to craft an explanation for its poor record of drafting productive talent for the franchise.

The feeling among the Warriors, however, is that Evans is ready to join Looney as a recent Warriors draft pick who establishes a solid role with the team.

“I think he’s going to emerge this year,” coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “That’s my belief.”

Evans, 22, certainly looks more self-assured. Often without rhythm and lacking flow – as well as shooting poorly – in brief appearances as a rookie, he made incremental improvement late last season and then looked like a player in command during Summer League games in July.

In informal summer workouts and the first two days of training camp, Evans is starting to flash the potential the Warriors saw when selecting him in the first round, No. 28 overall. He now looks as if he belongs in the NBA.

“Jacob has got a different kind of confidence on the floor right now,” Curry said. “He’s understanding how he can impact the game on both ends of the floor.”

Evans has scoring ability, but that component is no higher than fifth among his assets, behind defensive awareness, passing, court vision and two-way basketball IQ. He brings many of the same qualities, minus the athleticism, the Warriors lost in trading Andre Iguodala – someone Evans studied as a rookie.

“I tried to watch everybody – Andre, Dot (Livingston), Kevin (Durant), Steph, Klay (Thompson),” Evans said. “I can’t mimic the way they shoot, but I can mimic their work ethic. I can learn from their reads. They did different things on the court, and there was something I could learn from all of them.”

Evans took note of the clever ways Curry separates from defenders, the way Thompson uses his body to create space on one end and limit it on the other, the way Iguodala “was always alert and in the right spot” on defense and the way Livingston communicated and found ways to position his teammates on the floor.

Watching wasn’t always easy for someone who started every game as a sophomore and junior before declaring for the draft. Evans didn’t have many opportunities to play and wasn’t very effective when he did. He shot 34 percent from the field, including 26.7 percent beyond the arc. In the G-League, where he received considerably more playing time, those numbers rose to 43.7 percent and 30.5 percent.

It was Evans’ defense and court feel, however, that allowed the Warriors to maintain faith.

“I’m not going to compare him, in terms of accomplishments, to Shaun and Andre,” Kerr said. “He’s not as long. But he’s a basketball player. And he learned by watching those guys.

“With Jacob, it’s much more than, ‘Did he make his shots?’ That’s what everybody seems to look for. But It’s more about his defense, his awareness on the weak side and his playmaking. And I agree that he needs to play more with the ball.”

[RELATED: Key takeaways from Warriors' second training camp practice]

The opportunity Evans wasn’t ready for last season now is available. Can he seize it? Perhaps. He surely needs to, for the sake of the Warriors and their talent evaluators.

Why Steph Curry texted Andre Iguodala after first day of Warriors camp


Why Steph Curry texted Andre Iguodala after first day of Warriors camp

SAN FRANCISCO -- The surroundings around the Warriors are new, and so are most of the faces. It’s going to take a while for Stephen Curry to make the adjustment.

Only four other Warriors experienced Golden State’s five-year run to consecutive NBA Finals, and three of them -- Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and the rehabilitating Klay Thompson -- are absent from workouts during the first training camp at Chase Center.

“I texted Andre yesterday,” Curry said Wednesday, on Day 2 of training camp. “I had a little heartfelt moment. Said, ‘I miss you, bro.’”

Which stands to reason. The temperature of the locker room and the gym, as well as the location, has been altered.

If Curry was the Warriors’ moderating influence and Draymond Green their igniter, Igoudala was the conscience and Livingston the serenity. After six seasons with the Warriors, Iguodala he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies three months ago. Livingston, a Warrior for five seasons, became a free agent in July and announced his retirement six weeks later.

“It’s just weird not seeing them,” Curry said. “You get used to so many faces and a certain presence on the court. Those two guys were ... when you saw them, you knew what time it was.”

With Thompson rehabilitating his surgically repaired left knee and expected to be out until at least March, Curry and Green are the only Warriors who were along for the entire five-year ride who are able to participate in drills.

Kevin Durant, so impactful over the last three seasons, is in Brooklyn rehabbing after undergoing surgery on his Achilles tendon that was ruptured in The Finals.

In place of the veterans who had become so essential to the Warriors’ culture are several rookies and a variety of young players still trying to show they can contribute to a winning NBA team.

“Things change, obviously, and we talked about it all summer and knew this kind of situation was happening,” Curry said. “But this is definitely weird.”

[RELATED: Looney, Smailagic go down; Dubs forced to cut practice short]

Curry said he had a good conversation with Iguodala, his golf buddy, who is not expected to report to the Grizzlies and likely will be moved to another team after Dec. 15, when he becomes eligible for a trade – to any team except the Warriors.

“He’s grinding,” Curry said. “He’s staying sharp and in shape. I know he’s got a lot more to give in the league, so we’ll see.”

Steph Curry knows replacing Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston will be hard

Steph Curry knows replacing Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston will be hard

The Warriors suffered major losses this summer.

Yes, Kevin Durant packed up and took his talents to the Brooklyn Nets. While losing a two-time NBA Finals MVP is difficult for any franchise to stomach, the Warriors have the talent to do just that. But losing Andre Iguodala, who was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, and the now-retired Shaun Livingston will be more difficult to overcome.

As the Warriors prepare to embark on another Finals quest, Steph Curry detailed why it will be hard for the Dubs to fill the void left by the two veterans.

"It'll be really hard -- not just what they do on the floor," Curry said Monday at Warriors Media Day. "The intangibles and just that winning mentality that they brought every single they stepped foot on the floor. It was the idea that you had two guys that kind of knew how to handle their business, were ultimate professionals, were extremely savvy and knowledgeable about how the game works, the business of basketball works and you didn't have to worry about them. They said the right thing at the right time. They led by example and you respected them when they walked in the room because of who they are and what they had accomplished in their careers.

"So there's an opportunity for somebody to step up in that role, in terms of filling the gaps on the court from an Xs and Os standpoint and help us be successful and win games, We'll develop the chemistry and the locker room presence that's needed. At the end of the day, myself, Draymond, Klay are going to lead the charge on that front and D'Angelo is going to have a huge opportunity to be a vocal leader for this team and he's going to need to be. But there should be some unsung heroes -- some guys who can step up, be consistent with their work ethic and demonstrate that every day, being vocal and understanding that their voice can carry and get us where we need to go."

The Warriors enter their first season at Chase Center with lots to work out.

Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney are back, but the Dubs brought in a slew of new faces in the offseason, led by All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell, in order to re-tool their roster. The chemistry will need to develop fast if the Dubs plan to survive until Thompson returns from the torn ACL he suffered in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Without Iguodala and Livingston, Curry and Green will be tasked with taking on even more of a leadership role than they already carry.

[RELATED: Cauley-Stein's injury leaves Warriors thin in bruising West]

This season will have a different type of feel.

The Warriors have been the big, bad bully of the NBA in recent years, but now they find themselves as an underdog in the vaunted Western Conference.

With an influx of young players, Golden State will miss the leadership of Iguodala and Livingston, but there are a number of players capable of stepping up in their absence. And, who knows, there's a chance Iguodala could return to the Bay.