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An offseason acquisition that didn’t get a whole lot of attention that could pay off big next season?
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David Aldridge: Didn’t seem like Tyreke Evans to Indy got a lot of ink nationally. He could really help the Pacers as a secondary option to Victor Oladipo down the stretch of games. In the middle three games of that first-round series with Cleveland, Oladipo went just 12 of 50 from the floor; some of those were just misses, but the Cavs trapped him a bunch too, getting the ball out of his hands. That would be less impactful with a guy like Evans on the floor with Oladipo. Indy had a really good offseason.
Steve Aschburner: Pretty much any acquisition made by the Indiana Pacers, ever, doesn’t get a lot of attention. But Tyreke Evans should really help that team with his ability to create offense and lighten the load on Victor Oladipo. Considering how willing the Pacers were to flip the keys last season to Lance Stephenson in search of a second offensive threat, Evans represents a definite upgrade in reliability and in scoring prowess. The Grizzlies even helped out Indiana by not running up Evans’ mileage last season, sitting him often when he actually was healthy and able to play.
Tas Melas: Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma City Thunder. On his own, I’m not sure how much Noel would have provided. But pair him with the pending acquisition of Dennis Schroder — a talented point guard who can excel in the pick-and-roll — and you’ve got a motivated Noel who can wreak havoc on offense and as a defensive center. This is especially true when considering he’ll be playing against second units. This 24-year-old is teetering on the edge of NBA obscurity after turning down a reported four-year, $70 million offer from the Mavs last summer and is now playing for his basketball career. I think we’ll see some of the peak Noel we saw in Philly when he was working the P-and-R with Ish Smith.
Shaun Powell: I suspect Tyreke Evans will be a very welcome secondary scoring option for the Pacers. He had a comeback year with the Grizzlies (19 points per game) and finally looked durable and healthy after being dogged the previous three seasons with various physical issues. After Victor Oladipo, the Pacers sometimes struggled to find a consistent shotgun runner last season. Now, you wonder: Is it Bojan Bogdanovic, Myles Turner or Tyreke? My money’s on the newbie.
John Schuhmann: Given the Timberwolves’ issues with depth, defense and 3-point shooting, Anthony Tolliver could be a very valuable addition. Minnesota lost Nemanja Bjelica at that position, but Tolliver is both a quicker defender and a more aggressive shooter (7.5 3-point attempts per 36 minutes vs. Bjelica’s 4.8 last season). The improvement of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins is more critical in regard to the Wolves’ playoff chances in a tougher Western Conference, but a versatile (and complementary) big like Tolliver could make a difference.
Sekou Smith: The Nuggets went down the final night of the regular season battling for a playoff spot, coming up short on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves. But that was before Isaiah Thomas showed up in Denver with that chip on his shoulder. Now that Nuggets coach Mike Malone has his old X-factor back from their days in Sacramento (okay, they weren’t exactly in the playoff hunt … but roll with me here), it’s time to unleash IT again the way the Celtics did before it all came to an abrupt end. For the Nuggets to sign Thomas to that one-year deal is all the fire Thomas needs to fuel him this season. He can be a devastating scoring option at his best. And the Nuggets could use that wrinkle with Will Barton moving into the starting lineup.