The New Orleans Pelicans have struggled since coming out of the All-Star break. Granted the team has only played three games since the All-Star festivities appeared in Smoothie King Center. A player for the Pelicans who didn’t participate in All-Star weekend, Tyreke Evans, for this team to have more success I feel Evans should be starting.
Evans has played in 46 games this season for the Pelicans and hasn’t started a game. Call it sticking to the script, because Monty Williams hasn’t tweaked the rotation enough. With Eric Gordon playing the same position, Evans has been playing a lot of small forward this season, but his past stats tell us that he scores more when playing at the shooting guard spot.
In his first season with Sacramento, Evans averaged a career high 20.1 PPG while playing at the shooting guard position. His rookie year he started and played in 72 games for the Kings organization. In his next three years in a Kings uniform Evans scoring decreased, but continued to start almost every game. When Evans starts his scoring stats are clearly higher.
Evans is averaging 12.3 PPG this season, but has shown some flashes of brilliance. Earlier this year he had back-to-back games where he scored 20-plus points, but other than that it’s been a down year for the 24 year old. The Pelicans are paying Evans money that starters collect. Coming off the bench this season, Evans has scored between 20-29 points only six times. Why pay a player $44 million to only put the basketball in the hoop for about 12 points a game?
Evans can get to the rim and finish over post players, he can drive and dish, but the three-point ball isn’t in his arsenal. On average Evans attempts just over one three pointer a game. For $44 million, he needs to be not only attempting more threes a game, but also scoring more in general.
So, he has struggled this year, what should we do about his mediocre season? That’s what I imagine the Pelicans coaches saying to themselves. The answer is easy. Start to use his talents in a different way. Have him start a game and play 35-plus minutes. Let him get into a scoring rhythm and see what he gives the team. Take Brian Roberts out of the lineup and let Evans run the point guard position and see what he can do from that position. Or even better leave Roberts in at point guard and put Evans in for small forward, Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu may be a better option being the first man coming off the bench for this team, but the Pelicans haven’t tried to tinker with that option yet this season.
This is desperate times for the Pelicans, because at the moment the team is in no shape of making the playoffs. They are on a three game losing streak heading into Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. With 55 games under their feathers the Pelicans need a spark. Putting Evans in the starting lineup could definitely light that spark.
An even better spark for this team would’ve been making it onto the show outline for the Trade Deadline Special show on ESPN. Not making a trade really limits the Pelicans from here on out. The Pelicans needed to acquire a scoring big man to help Anthony Davis take some of the weight of his shoulders. Davis, who has been a do it all player this year, simply can’t do it all for 82 games a year. Now the Pelicans are stuck with the roster they have.
Doesn’t matter who is on your roster, all it takes is one little spark of energy to start a fire. Whether it’s by, picking up the defensive intensity, starting games with more energy or finishing close games, the Pelicans need a wakeup call. Hopefully, in the near future we will see some starting lineup changes for the Pelicans.