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NBA Daily: Jawun Evans Hopes to Build on Rookie Year

Jawun Evans spoke to Basketball Insiders about his rookie season, how he is improving his game, the upcoming season and more.

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A year ago, the Los Angeles Clippers went into the 2017 NBA Draft without any draft picks. By the end of the night, not only had they bought their way into the draft, but they ended up with two players, Jawun Evans with the 39th overall pick and Sindarius Thornwell with the 48th overall pick, whom many lauded as being draft steals.

As last season began, and the Clippers rolled out a lineup without Chris Paul but still talented in its own right, it appeared that Evans and Thornwell would have to wait their turn. Regular rotation minutes for rookies aren’t readily available on a veteran team with playoff aspirations.

But the injury bug struck, and it struck hard. The Clippers lost starting point guard Patrick Beverley in November for the remainder of the season. Backup point guard Milos Teodosic also missed a significant amount of time due to injury.

The Clippers’ prized free agent signing Danilo Gallinari was limited to 21 games because of various injuries. Austin Rivers, who turned in a career year, missed time. Even ironman DeAndre Jordan, who had never missed a game due to injury, sat out back in January because of his ankle.

The Clippers finished the season with a league-high 37 different starting lineups. Because of the numerous injuries, both Evans and Thornwell found themselves immediately thrust into the fire.

“It was tough. We lost a lot of key pieces to our team,” Evans told Basketball Insiders in Las Vegas for Summer League. “But you know, the next man has got to step up. That’s what the team was, that’s what everybody did.”

Evans, in particular, was a bright spot for the Clippers last season. He saw action in 48 games with four starts. While his numbers (4.8 points per game and 2.1 assists) may not jump off the page, Evans provided the team with a solid playmaker off the bench capable of running the offense.

He also carved out a role for himself of the defensive end of the court. Depending on where you look, Evans is listed as either 5-foot-11 or 6-foot-0. Not much of a difference either way, but he’s still considered undersized at his position.

Pre-draft scouting reports predicted that he might have trouble defensively in the NBA due to his size. He emerged as one of the better defenders on the team using his quickness to hound opposing point guards. It was a role that he just fit right into.

“On the defensive end, that was my calling card, just get stops and get steals. That’s what I tried to do,” Evans told Basketball Insiders. “It was great, I just went out there and gave it my all. I did everything I could for my team for us to get wins.”

Prior to being drafted, there was another knock on Evans’ game. He struggled at times with his offense, in particular, his shooting. He shot fairly well at Oklahoma State with 44.8 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from the three-point line.

The transition to the NBA didn’t quite carry over as well. He finished the season shooting 35.2 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from three-point range. It’s something that can be worked on though. Shooting can be improved — it’s what Evans spent the majority of summer league in Las Vegas working on.

“Just hitting the open shot, working on my mid-range game, working on my jumper, in general, all summer,” Evans told Basketball Insiders.

He’s also spent the summer working on his leadership ability on the court. As a point guard, he’s an extension of the coach on the floor.

“I’m just trying to be more vocal,” Evans told Basketball Insiders. “I just want to become a better point guard, just trying to tell my teammates where to go on the floor, stuff like that, being more vocal.”

While Evans went above and beyond last season of what is usually asked of rookies, his spot in the rotation might not be guaranteed. The Clippers are expecting Beverley to be ready for the upcoming season and reclaim his spot as the starting point guard. They also guaranteed Teodosic’s contract this summer and drafted Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Despite that, Evans is going to continue to work hard and be ready for whatever comes his way.

“Anything my team needs me to do,” Evans told Basketball Insiders. “If it’s the same role I’ve been doing, so be it. I’m going to be out here and giving it my all every time I’m on the court.”

David Yapkowitz has been a staff writer for Basketball Insiders since 2017. Based in Los Angeles, he focuses on the Pacific Division as well as the NBA at large.

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