Tyreke Evans got off to a rough start with the New Orleans Pelicans this year, serving as a sparingly-used sixth man.
However, sometimes his lack of defensive effort and off-ball movement would even relegate him to the bench in the crucial minutes of games. You can bet that will not be the case next year.
Since the injuries of Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans has stepped his game up. His post All-Star game statistics are dramatically better than those before the break in every major category. Seeing an increase in minutes, he has bettered his efficiency (shooting 46.2% instead of 41.1% from the field) and has increased his points, rebounds, and assists averages.
His stats as a starter compared to his stats as a sixth man display an even more dramatic difference. It is a safe bet to say that Evans will not be riding the pine in the 2014-2015 season.
Monday night's performance against the Thunder highlighted this change. The outmanned Pelicans, without Anthony Davis, defeated Kevin Durant's Thunder 101-89. Although Russell Westbrook did not play, this was still an incredible win for the Pelicans, despite the insignificance regarding their standing.
New Orleans trailed by 1 at the half but was able to pull away in the fourth quarter, a quarter they won by 11 points. Evans dominated the second half, scoring 31 of his 41 points and taking over the game. The former Kings' Rookie of the Year could not be stopped by Durant, Sefolosha, or any other defender that Scott Brooks threw at him, beating them off the first step with a mix of quickness and physicality.
Not to be forgotten, Evans also led the team in assists and rebounds. Evans pulled down 9 boards, including a few crucial ones in the fourth quarter. His high assist total shows how he has progressed as a player as well, dishing out 8 dimes to teammates after getting to the basket.
This game marks not only Evans's progression this season but also his evolution as a player. He knows his limits (for the most part) and has become much less one dimensional. If Evans, who is still only 24 years of age, works on his jump shot, than these games will become more and more common. Regardless, don't be surprised to see Evans become part of the Pelicans starting rotation next year, taking minutes from either Jrue Holiday or Eric Gordon.
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