FEW players have a had as many ups and downs as Tyreke Evans in his career to date. It feels like such a short time ago he was reeling off numbers in his rookie season that were compared to the likes of LeBron James, only for his career to fall into a heap with injuries taking their toll. In new colours for the 2017-18 season though, Evans is thriving in his 6th man role and is helping keep Memphis relevant.
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THROUGH the Grizzlies first 15 games, Evans is putting up over 17 points a game off of the bench and is shooting the ball in near career best form. He is arguably boasting the best per game averages since his Rookie of the Year season in 2009-10. Pouring in over 20 points, five assists and five rebounds a game over his first pro season (numbers that only LeBron, MJ and Oscar Robertson have averaged in their rookie campaign), the future appeared bright for on the league’s youngest new stars eight short years ago.
FOLLOWING his first pro season Evans regressed slightly in his sophomore campaign with plantar fasciitis in his left foot causing him to miss 19 straight contests in the second half of the season. Year three was just as frustrating for Evans, with the lockout shortening the season to just 66 games (of which Tyreke managed to play 63). His production took another hit with his points, rebounds and assists all declining and Evans shooting a career-worst 20.2% from behind the arc.
MORE injuries to welcome the next season meant his numbers dipped again and Sacramento gave up on Evans. You can’t really blame them considering the injuries that he was exposed to and with the losses piling up (Sactown went 99-213 in that span) the front office needed to mix things up. That all led to Tyreke finding himself involved in a three-team deal where he landed in New Orleans during the 2013-14 offseason.
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EVANS went on to have two fine seasons with the Pelicans in NOLA, before once again injuries derailed his success. In the 2015-16 season, he managed just 25 games with right knee surgery ruling him out for almost an entire 12 months. Evans returned in December of 2016 the next season but lasted just 26 games before he was involved in another trade, ironically back to Sacramento in the DeMarcus Cousins blockbuster.
IN the second half of the season Evans managed to play in 14 of a possible 25 games, struggling to find his role and place on the new look Sacramento Kings. So it wasn’t incredibly surprising that the Kings decided not to re-sign Evans when he became a free agent in the offseason. With plenty of other big-name free agents garnering attention and Evans’ career pretty much at the crossroads, things looked grim.
IN today’s NBA a player who shoots under 30% from three for his career and has been plagued with injuries for the past five years wasn’t going to demand a massive paycheck. However, Memphis decided he was worth a gamble, signing him to a one year, $3.3 million dollar deal. From day dot, Evans has helped the Grizz compete as they begin a new era in their franchise’s history. Coming off the bench in all 15 contests so far he is shooting the light’s out, making a career-high 1.8 three’s a game (at over 40% as well).
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OVER a two week, six-game stretch to begin November, Evans looked like one of the best players in the league. Averaging 24.7 points on 61% shooting (48.3% from three) he may just be the best player coming off the bench in the league right now, making him a favourite for the 6th man of the year award. As is always the story with Evans, his health will be the determining factor on what his ceiling his for this season, but it’s clear that if he’s healthy Evans can really help the Memphis team and look good while he’s doing it*. Welcome back Tyreke.
*I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY FUTURE INJURIES TYREKE EVANS SUFFERS. PLEASE BASKETBALL GODS BE KIND*
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