One may wonder what took so long, while others may just point to bad management in New Orleans, but after four long months, small forward Tyreke Evans has finally found himself in the Pelicans’ starting lineup. The sudden change in his role has elevated him into the Top 80 in my latest fantasy basketball player rankings.
Evans, who signed a four-year, $44 million contract in the off-season, has been in coach Monty Williams‘ doghouse for most of the season. Last week, when Jrue Holiday was officially deemed out for the year, Evans was finally inserted into the Pelicans’ starting five.
Probably the best playmaker on the team outside of Holiday, Evans was relegated to a bench role off the bat to begin the 2013-14 season. Using him as a true sixth man would have been okay, but Evans was clearly not on Williams good side. Up until the last four games, the former Memphis Tigers’ star found himself playing just 24.8 minutes per contest, averaging a mere 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.1 steals.
What’s more curious about his lack of usage, was that the Pelicans have been hit by the injury bug more than any other team in the league this season. They’ve lost Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith to season-ending injuries, and the team should’ve really been putting Evans skills to use earlier.
Finally, on Feb. 28, with the team sitting at 23-34, Coach Williams (I’m sure begrudgingly) announced that Evans would join the team’s starting lineup. Not Williams, nor a hotel elevator, could stop the inevitable from happening.
While the Pelicans have won just two of the five contests he has started, Evans has looked like his former Rookie of the Year self.
During those games, the 24-year-old has played 38.1 minutes, averaging 22.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 0.8 steals, and even 1.2 3-pointers. He had made just 0.2 treys in his previous 49 games. During his current run, his field goal percentage has improved as well, shooting 50.0 percent, compared to 39.6 percent on the season. Those numbers have him ranked 37th on Basketball Monster.com’s player ranker over the past week.
It looks as if he’ll stick as a starter for the rest of the season, especially if Williams wants to keep his job. With the numbers he’s been putting up, he has the ability to keep climbing up the ladder, but for now, Tyreke Evans sits at No. 76 in my latest fantasy basketball player rankings: