Tyreke Evans has not been a popular figure among fans this season. Many have decried his ability to run an uptempo system, so much so, trade scenarios mentioning his name consistently populate social media, blog pages and various forums.
News flash: he's quietly putting together the best season of his career. In a year where most Pelicans have seen their numbers decrease, Anthony Davis included, Evans is on pace to set career highs in three-point field goal percentage (38.6%), free throw percentage (84.1%), threes made (1.3) and attempted (3.4), assists (7.1) and steals (1.5).
Advanced stats are fans as well as evidenced by personal bests in assist percentage (35.2%), defensive (17.5%) and total (10.0%) rebounding percentages and PER (18.9). ESPN's real plus-minus statistic ranks him as the team's second best player (+1.21), and he is the only Pelican to possess both a positive ORPM and DRPM. All the while, his 23.9 usage percentage is threatening to be the lowest of his career.
Yet, all anyone wants to talk about is time of possession, dribbles per possession or some metric that perceives an inability to move the basketball. I addressed this issue before Christmas and the statistics bore out improvement. Since the article posted, Evans has maintained a nearly identical time and dribbles per possession.
His season averages (4.39 avg seconds per touch and 4.09 avg dribbles per touch) are less dominant than the majority of other starting NBA point guards. 18 floor generals have a higher average seconds per touch than Evans, and 23 average more dribbles per touch! Sure, some possessions will resemble iso-Reke of old, but they continue to dwindle in number. Stop looking for the fast-becoming anomalies and let it go already guys!
Instead, marvel at his improvements in so many facets. For starters, Evans has become a legitimate threat from three-point range.
And he continues to work diligently to further improve his far and away highest three-point field goal percentage of his career.
Tyreke Evans on a post-practice hot streak. pic.twitter.com/3TsBOuO4aE— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) January 9, 2016
Considering his responsibilities as a point guard and he plays a team-best 9.5 minutes, Evans has probably been the Pelicans strongest performer in fourth quarters.
For Tyreke Evans naysayers, his 4th quarter #'s (team ranking): 6.2 PTS (2nd) 1.8 REB (2nd) 2.0 AST (1st) 49.2 FG% 52.2 3FG% (1st) 83.3 FT%— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) January 9, 2016
Lastly, if the question was posed, who has been the Pelicans best spot-up shooter (when an offensive play ends in a catch-and-shoot or a catch-and-drive play), who would be your guess? I'll give you your choice of statistic too: by either points per possession or effective field goal percentage.
It's not Anthony Davis (.86 PPP, 43.8 eFG%). Nada on Eric Gordon (.94 PPP, 45.5 eFG%). Certainly not Jrue Holiday (.74 PPP, 41.9 eFG%). And that's a negative on Ryan Anderson (.96 PPP, 50.5 eFG%).
By a landslide, it's Tyreke Evans; his 1.24 PPP and 58.3 eFG% are far and away the best among the regular rotation of the Pelicans. In fact, his spot-up efficiency gives him a percentile ranking of 95.6. He only trails 15 players in the entire league, including Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard, but he's ahead of such names as Kevin Durant and James Harden.
In purely in catch-and-shoot situations, Evans sports a 60.0 eFG%, best on the team outside of the seldom used Toney Douglas. In 2015, Evans had a 50.7 eFG% and a 40.2 eFG% in his first season in New Orleans.
On pull-ups, Evans has a 47.1 eFG%, the same as Klay Thompson. Last season, he failed to eclipse 40% (36.2 eFG%), the year before 30% (24.6%).
Maybe some or most of these statistics are not sustainable, but it's ridiculous the amount of flack Evans has taken from the fan base this season for his play up to this point. There are so many more gripes to make, say regarding coaching decisions or other individual players. The only reason Evans' name should be brought up is to accolade him for a job well done in what is turning out to be a career year surrounded by the organization's worst season in franchise history.
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