Tyreke Evans Must Be Primary Ball-Handler to Thrive in New Orleans
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the New Orleans Pelicans have a verbal agreement in place to acquire 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans from the Sacramento Kings. Amick reports that the deal involves three teams including the Portland Trail Blazers.
If the deal goes through, the only way for Evans to thrive in New Orleans is to join Jrue Holiday as the team's primary ball-handlers.
Per Amick, the Pelicans will receive Evans and send point guard Greivis Vasquez to the Kings. New Orleans will also send center Robin Lopez and shooting guard Terrel Harris to the Trail Blazers, while Sacramento will receive two second-round picks from Portland.
In a classy move, Evans took to Twitter to thank the Sacramento fans for their support during his time with the team.
Just got back to Sac. I had a great 4 years here. The Kings fans are amazing i will never forget you. Alot of memories. Thank you all!— Tyreke Evans (@TyrekeEvans) July 5, 2013
He will receive $44 million over the next four seasons from New Orleans.
Evans may be a rising star, but that doesn't mean he's going to thrive in every situation.
Tyreke Evans has given the New Orleans Pelicans a verbal agreement that he'll sign the four-year, $44 million offer sheet, I'm told.ESPN 1st— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 4, 2013
With a stacked perimeter, it may be difficult for Evans to emerge as the primary ball-handler in New Orleans. With that being said, Evans has a playing style that commands a certain approach and treatment.
Here's how New Orleans can maximize his elite abilities.
How He Scores
After evaluating the advanced numbers, it's clear how Evans finds his points.
Evans is capable of shooting off the catch and taking passes as a cutter, but he's most comfortable with the ball in his hands. Keep in mind, his averages in 2012-13 displayed a shell of the player he was when Sacramento made him its primary ball-handler.
So how can New Orleans make this work?
Jrue Holiday's Impact
The Pelicans' advantage is that their two point guards are big.
Evans stands at 6'6" and 220 pounds, while All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday checks in at 6'4" and 205 pounds. Both players are supreme ball-handlers who have been successful at taking defenders off the bounce.
They're also capable facilitators with one key ingredient to throw into the mix—Holiday can shoot the lights out.
Holiday is a career 37.4 percent shooter from three-point range, displaying his ability to stroke the three-ball. According to Synergy Sports, Holiday shot 44.2 percent on spot-up jump shots and 48.1 on spot-up three-pointers.
By comparison, Evans converted 36.8 percent from beyond the arc on spot-up attempts—New Orleans must maximize this versatility.
Pros and Cons
The question is, do the drawbacks outweigh the benefits?
The pros of this system are evident, as the Pelicans have two top-tier spot-up shooters in Holiday and Ryan Anderson. Both will space the floor for Evans to attack off the bounce, thus opening drive-and-dish opportunities and enabling him to finish at the rim.
Unfortunately, there is a major hitch in this plan—Eric Gordon is currently at the 2.
Can the Pelicans get everyone enough touches to not only maximize their upside but keep them happy?
Gordon, a 6'3" shooting guard, instantly pushes Evans to playing small forward. If that's the case, there's a strong possibility that New Orleans will use him as an off-ball player when Holiday and Gordon share touches in the backcourt.
That doesn't bode well for New Orleans, as Basketball-Reference reports Evans shot 31.3 percent on jump shots in 2012-13.
If Evans is able to come in and handle the ball for the Pelicans, it will open up their offense and enable their shooters to thrive. If they trust Evans to become a jump shooter, however, his efficiency will be limited.
This may be an excellent on-paper trade, but New Orleans has some decisions to make before Evans becomes comfortable in its system.
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