Talent = Skill + Ability: The Battle Of The Steves (and Tyreke Evans)

Evans And Francis’ Careers Are Mirror Images Thus Far

By: The Pest

Who’s more talented… Tyreke Evans or Stephen Curry?

If you go by the evaluation of the NBA in general last year, it’s Evans in a landslide which garnered him ROY honors. But is it the case?

It depends on perspective. If you consider ‘right now’ Evans was able to overwhelm Curry on the basis of his athletic ability, raw stats and highlight plays. If it’s career based, and you picture yourself looking back at the year 2010 when they’re getting ready for the Hall Of Fame, your perspective changes. Those who ranked on ability are most likely to be laughing at themselves, and those ranking on skill are most likely going to be saying ‘told ya so’.

Allow me to demonstrate. The year is 2002, lets look back and compare two points, Steve Francis and Steve Nash.

Francis was electric. He dunked on people’s heads. His nickname was “Franchise”. He made highlight reels nightly. Nash was probably the 2’nd or 3’rd (and some may say 4th) best player on a pretty good Mavs team that won 57 games. Here are their 02 stats:

Francis: 21.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 42%, 35% from 3, 77% from the line, 3.9 TO, 3.0 PF

Nash: 17.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 7.7 APG, .6 SPG, 48%, 45% from 3, 89% from the line, 2.8 TOs, 2.0 PF

Francis Liked Playing With Yao So Much,
He Decided To End His Career Playing In China
For A Team Called The Ducks

If you were to say that Nash was the better player, was going to have a better career and much more a lock for the HOF, people would have ridiculed you. If you pointed out that Nash had an array of honed skills that were far superior to Francis, that he was more effective while scoring only marginally fewer points and more assists people would say you were just making excuses and that Nash, while good, was just an inferior player, he didn’t have the same talent. (It should be noted that Nash’s defence was rarely brought up until he was the best player on a truly GOAT level offensive team).

Looking back now though it’s difficult to tell what was thicker, the irony or the heads of those laughing. Francis retired at the age of 30 and was not seriously considered an elite player after the age of 27. Almost 10 career year after this Nash is putting up a career in scoring, just came off a career season leading the 4’th best offense of all time (only surpassed by Magic’s showtime Lakers, Bird’s Celtic’s and MJ’s Bulls) with no HOF players on his team… well, except him, because he’s cemented himself as a first ballot HOF player.

Where was this evident in 2002 though? You can see the difference in their ‘skill stats’. Nash only played 34.6 MPG to Francis’ 41.1 meaning that /36 his per game totals were even closer/better.

Nash shot much better from the field (6%), 3 (10%) and the line (12%) indicating he had wildly better shot mechanics which was also evident by watching the many bricks Francis put up when he wasn’t close to the cup.

As a ball handler/passer Nash also commits far fewer TO’s (over 1 less) a game which is highlighted even more by the fact that as a pass first point guard who got more dimes, Nash made many more risky plays a game dishing to his teammates, and when he was not passing most likely had the ball in his hands running a play.

Francis got more steals but this is more than partly due to his willingness to gamble for them and Nash’s religious devotion to never gambling. This discipline is reflected in Nash’s much foul rate too as he’s not trying to make up for plays he’s counted himself out of.

The result is obvious. People under rate skills and over rate natural ability. Francis is putting his feet up on the couch to watch 36 year old Nash is putting up career highs… and he has been for 6 years.

Evans Will Have A Blue Career Without A Jumper

Lets look again at the modern day Francis/Nash of Evans/Curry. Notice the parallels? Evans made sports center like crazy last year and was electric as one of the most athletic guards in the league. But Curry has game that will be effective with or without his athleticism. Tangible skills that are going to carry him through a Hall Of Fame likely GOAT shooting career. Evans is a low skill one dimensional player who gets 73% of his field goals directly at the rim, not to mention is only effective scoring with one hand. (note the graphic on the side).

Curry is a high skilled multi-talented player who finishes at the rim with nearly identical effectiveness yet only relies on it for 28% of his field goals. The other 72% come from all over the court including 3 pointers which I don’t have to tell you, count for more.

I’ll Let Curry’s ‘Rookie’ Shot Chart Have The Last Word

Who’s more talented? If you’re a student of the game and think about players in terms of careers instead of sports center highlights, I think it’s almost obvious Curry wins. Evans might be able to make it on ability for now but it won’t last if he doesn’t learn how to play more like Curry. Evans can get there, but without remarkably improving his game he will be ‘disenFranchised’ out of the league in 10 years because he frankly lacks talent. Talent he needs to be a truly great player.

Curry does not need to change his game in the slightest. He’s already there. It’s so common to misconstrue that athleticism supersedes skill in the talent equation but it’s quite the opposite. Curry stands to be a better player at 33 than he is now. Improving at a normal gradual pace his talent will be swishing 3’s right into the Hall Of Fame.

But you could see that even before Curry played a minute in the NBA. Observe.





2 Comments on "Talent = Skill + Ability: The Battle Of The Steves (and Tyreke Evans)"

  1. Longevity certainly proved Nash was the better player. But Francis had his moments.

    I was living in Orlando when Francis was playing for the Magic, right before his career essentially ended.

    In the middle of a San Antonio game, he snagged a loose ball and started a fastbreak, took the ball back behind his legs to split two defenders and only had one man to beat: Tim Duncan.

    He ended up throwing down on Timmy as the place went into an uproar. It was still one of the sickest moves I had ever seen live.

    Unfortunately for Francis, he needed a helluva lot more than that to have had a memorable NBA career.

  2. Heh, I met a guy who said Francis was his favorite player of all time yesterday… it made me feel guilty for writing this article. 🙂

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