2013-14 Season in Review: Tyreke Evans

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

Pelicans.com continues its look back at the 2013-14 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

TYREKE EVANS
Age: 24
NBA experience: Five seasons (one with Pelicans)
Games played/started: 72/22

2013-14 OVERVIEW

Evans, who arrived in New Orleans last summer via a sign-and-trade deal that also included Portland and his former team, Sacramento, essentially experienced two distinct seasons in one. There was the Tyreke Evans who came off the bench for his first 49 games as a Pelican, and there was the Tyreke Evans who started 22 times out of his final 23 appearances in 2013-14.

Perhaps no NBA player this season was as greatly impacted by a move to his team’s first unit. As a starter, Evans averaged 19.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists, compared to his reserve stats of 12.1, 4.5 and 4.5 in those categories, respectively. Although a portion of the bump in production was a result of him logging more minutes as a starter, his percentages also drastically changed. Evans shot a stellar 49.6 percent from the field as a first-stringer, compared to just 40.0 as a sub. His three-point shooting accuracy jumped from a meager 14.5 percent to 32.5.

The Pelicans entered 2013-14 planning to bring Evans off the bench and pair him with floor-spacing three-point shooter Ryan Anderson, but that plan was altered due to widespread injuries. Evans was moved into the starting group Feb. 28 in Phoenix and almost instantly improved. As a team, New Orleans went 11-11 in the games he started, compared to just 21-29 when he was a reserve.

Going forward, Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said the team will weigh this offseason how to proceed with Evans, who had to share minutes and the ball with Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon, prior to those backcourt players being injured. Though he slid over to small forward at times, the Pelicans don’t believe that position is in Evans’ best interests, because it means he sometimes has to guard much bigger players.

“That’s part of the evaluation that we’re going to have,” Williams said. “You look at Tyreke, his effectiveness as a starter, you can’t just sneeze at that. It’s a valid conversation. It’s going to take some conversations with me and the staff, to figure out what’s best for the team. The bigger key is if he can play the small-forward spot, along with those guys. That’s something that we’ve got to address this summer. There’s more to the equation than just those two (Holiday and Gordon).”

Regardless of how the Pelicans arrange their lineups and combinations, it became indisputable that Evans benefited greatly from the move to the starting five, a reality Williams will assess this offseason.

“For whatever reason, it just clicks for him,” Williams said of Evans as a starter. “He just likes his name being called. He’s case in point – he is a totally different player when he starts the game. When he comes off the bench, he’s not bad, he’s just different. You can’t argue with his production (as a starter). That’s something I have to make a huge decision on this summer. “

TOP THREE TYREKE EVANS GAMES OF 2013-14

#3: Dec. 23, 2013 – New Orleans at Sacramento
In his first game against the team he played for from 2009-13, Evans showed off the multi-dimensional skill set that helped make him Rookie of the Year in ’09-10 with the Kings. In New Orleans’ 113-100 win, Evans registered 25 points, six rebounds and 12 assists.

#2: March 24, 2014 – Brooklyn at New Orleans
With Evans and Anthony Davis combining to play 88 minutes, the Pelicans pulled out a 109-104 overtime win against the playoff-bound Nets. In his first 30-point game with New Orleans, Evans terrorized Brooklyn with a near triple-double, collecting 33 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

#1: April 14, 2014 – Oklahoma City at New Orleans
Evans established a New Orleans franchise record by scoring 32 second-half points, en route to his career-high 41-point game. He also netted nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Despite the Pelicans only having 10 healthy players available, including two recent D-League call-ups, they pulled away for a 101-89 victory over title contender Oklahoma City.

Dec. 23 at Kings

Mar. 24 vs. Nets

Apr. 14 vs. Thunder