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2015 NBA Free Agency: Pelicans miss on Aminu but a better option remains

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Dell Demps was interested in adding Al-Farouq Aminu, an athletic forward who can play both the 3 and 4, but I'm here to tell you Jeremy Evans makes for a far more appealing choice.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few days, both Joseph and David have recognized a number of solid options to fill out the rest of New Orleans roster. Players who sit further down most lists but represent solid cost-efficient alternatives. In particular, Luigi Datome and Darrell Arthur are two names that I think Dell Demps should strongly consider. However, there is one other player I'd like to mention today that no one seems to be talking about: Jeremy Evans.

Despite a nickname of the "Human Pogo Stick," Evans has never received much fanfare. He grew up in the small town of Crossett, Arkansas, went to college in Western Kentucky and has spent the last 5 years largely buried on the bench with the Utah Jazz.

Notwithstanding, he has caught my eye and I hope he sits near the forefront of Dell Demps wishlist.

The Pelicans need to add athleticism at both forward spots without breaking the bank. With the Pelicans expressing an interest in Aminu last week, it's apparent the organization may agree. If New Orleans plans to push the pace next season, it is necessary to fill several of the remaining roster spots with players who can cover ground on both sides of the ball in the blink of an eye.

Enter Jeremy Evans.

You knew there had to be a legitimate reason for his moniker, no?

However, Evans does display a vast array of skills besides this insane vertical. He is an excellent finisher, having never shot below 70% in any season between the rim and three feet. He is an solid rebounder, finishing in the same range of rebounding percentage last season as LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick Favors and Jared Sullinger. He is an efficient player who plays within himself, rarely turning the ball over and only attempts shots inside his comfort range.

So why did Evans surpass 1,000 minutes played in just 1 of his 5 seasons?


During most of his tenure, the Utah Jazz have played a traditional basketball lineup. Evans doesn't possess enough ball-handling to play small forward full-time, or similarly, the size to play the 4. He's a tweener whose ideal situation involves position-less basketball.

Fortunately for him, the NBA is trending in this direction, and in New Orleans, this would be his role. He would slot well alongside the slower bench reserves of Ryan Anderson and Alexis Ajinca; he would be the large finisher this squad would need in transition. On a team that is set to increase their number of perimeter shots, he'd be a blessing on the offensive glass. On the other side of the floor, his career per 36 averages of 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks would utilize well for a team looking to be more opportunistic.

Speaking of defense, he has among the best tools in the world. We know he can jump clear out of the gym but let's add these facts to the story: he's tall (6'9''), has a wingspan of 7'2'' and has a standing reach of 9'1". In comparison, Tyreke Evans and Dante Cunningham both have wingspans under 7 feet and standing reaches under 8'11''.

In the midst of the 2013-14 season, AllThatAmar from SBNation's Utah Jazz site, SLC Dunk, broke down Jeremy and concluded he's so much more than just a dunker.

Well, let's put this all to rest and understand that Evans is a budding defensive stopper. He's got the length that bothers everyone. He doesn't have the bulk, and while that does hurt him, he has a better 2nd and 3rd jump than everyone else in the league. And few people can close out like he does.

When people try to iso on Jeremy they lose. Over his career people are shooting 39.3 fg% against him in these situations. And most of the time it's when he picks up a guard in transition. They try to beat him with moves, but he is quick enough not to be beaten by their first move. This season in particular he is dropping back a bit more and using his surprising explosion and extension to disrupt shots.

So many teams now employ power forwards, both at starter and reserve, who can stretch the floor. Evans is not only well-suited at guarding these players, he appears a great option to play in a frequent switching defensive strategy in the mold of the Golden State Warriors. Overall, I'd bet good money that Darren Erman could do wonders with him.

Many have complained about his lack of a jumpshot. Although the statistics seem to agree, I'm not sold. In 2013-14, a season in which he garnered easily the most playing time of his career, he was effective all the way out to around 16 feet. Fundamentally, there isn't much wrong with these jumpers is there?

(Btw, did you catch whose shot he blocked at the 50 second mark of the video?)

Rather than form standing in the way, I've mostly read his problems with proficiency stem from confidence issues --he's hesitant to release that solid-looking jumper. Perhaps a change in his surroundings and voices that would make use of his talents could provide the right impetus.

On top of all of his physical gifts, Dell Demps should love the reports of his professionalism. He's always been known for working hard despite not receiving the minutes.

Almost as important, Evans was a rock in the lockerroom. One of the most-liked players on the team — he is one of Gordon Hayward's best friends — his jovial nature and consistent smile helped keep the Jazz together through one of the toughest seasons in the history of the franchise.

"I leaned on Jeremy a lot," Hayward said. "We've gone through a lot together."

I had really wanted the Pelicans to take a flier on KJ McDaniels but it appears the Houston Rockets are set to keep him. Aminu, as you know, received 30 million dollars for his services from Portland. Consequently, I'd love for the Pelicans to give Evans, a legitimate NBA player who has posted a PER of 18+ in 4 of his 5 seasons, a place on next season's roster.

Coming off his age-26 season in which his career trajectory pointed upwards, Quin Snyder buried him on the bench in 2014-15. With Rudy Gobert's emergence, Derrick Favors remaining part of the future, and Trevor Booker's signing, Utah's head coach didn't see a need for Evans defensive and rebounding prowess but rather more team perimeter shooting.

That won't be the case in New Orleans. After having finished in the top 6 in three point shooting percentage the last several years and the Pelicans rolling it back with largely the same roster, one of their remaining holes will lie in the athleticism department. Signing Jeremy Evans would plug that leak immediately.

So guys, let's stop clamoring for a questionable character like Gerald Green (who you have to know by now Demps consistently avoids) and instead focus on a much less heralded but easily more valuable player like the Human Pogo Stick.