Jawun Evans doesn’t even have a home yet.
The former Oklahoma State point guard and No. 39 pick who the L.A. Clippers traded for on draft night is in housing limbo. He’s not in Stillwater anymore. He’s not yet in Los Angeles.
“Where I’m going to live, I’m going to find out after summer league,” Evans told The Transcript. “See where I’m going to stay at.”
He spent the past two weeks learning his new organization in Las Vegas. And during that time, the Clippers locked him up to a rookie deal. He’ll be the team’s third-string point guard behind the just-traded-for Patrick Beverley and the just-signed Milos Teodosic, and he’ll possibly spend some time with the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, the team’s new G-League affiliate.
But for now, Evans has greater priorities than just finding a place to live. He has to learn his teammates.
Summer league just ended for the Clippers, but physical development isn’t the point of Evans participating in the two-week event. The value is more macro.
It helped Evans get acclimated to the pro game and the organization. It provided him a setting to meet people. It gave him a start with the few summer leaguers who could end up his teammates either in the NBA or G-League.
“Being with these guys everyday, they’re cool. They took me in under their wings,” Evans said of summer league teammates with previous pro experience. “They’re just trying to teach me everyday, just helping me out. I’m here to learn.”
No one put an arm around Evans quite like point guard Kendall Marshall, a former lottery pick whom Clippers coach Doc Rivers insists is a future head coach. Marshall won’t make the team now that Evans signed, but that didn’t stop him from teaching.
“I remember my first year in the league, how intimidating it was, how new it was, how different it is,” Marshall told The Transcript. “There’s stuff, no matter how much you prepare, you’re still not going to be prepared just because it’s a completely different lifestyle, a completely different brand of basketball. So, I just try to be in his ear, help him out. He’s a tremendous talent.”
Marshall is attempting to show Evans the pro way.
Collegiate days are so much more planned. If there’s no practice or game on a particular day, there are still classes. There’s study hall. There might be a team meeting. And more. And much of it is supervised.
But in the NBA, there’s free time. An off-day is an actual off-day. And players have to learn to improve on their own, like Evans is trying to do.
He spent much of his free time at summer league consumed with fun facts about teammates, like what their on-court tendencies are or where they like to receive passes. He especially made an effort for fellow 2017 second-rounder Sindarius Thornwell and 2016 first-rounder Bryce Johnson, two players he could share the floor with a whole bunch during the upcoming season.
“Sindarius Thornwell, he likes to get out and run. He likes to attack off the dribble, so I kick it to him early,” Evans said. “Bryce, he likes a bounce pass or over-the-head. He just likes to get space.”
Evans can list all his teammates’ preferences. It took him only a week to get there.
“That’s your homework now,” Marshall said. “It’s no longer chemistry and all that stuff. Your homework is now, I have to know my teammates. As a point guard, I have to know where to get them the ball. And you learn that from watching them, from watching film. You learn that from playing with them, playing against them. So, that’s all a part of the process, but he’s picking it up quick.”
Evans was a collegiate scorer, the ball-dominant member of an offense that didn’t have much NBA talent. And one of the biggest wonders about his future style hinges on if that will change at the next level.
Did Evans dribble so much at OSU because that’s who he is, or did he play that way because he was the product of a team-created circumstance, because that’s how the Cowboys needed him to play?
The Clippers believe the latter is true of a cerebral point guard dedicated to adapting. He did, after all, finish inside the top five in the nation in assist rate. As long as he continues to learn his teammates, he’s heading in the right direction.
“It’s been an adjustment for me, but I’m starting to get used to it,” Evans said. “It’s slowed down for me from the first game to today.”