Are We Being Unfair to Tyreke Evans?

Published: January 11, 2016

The Christmas Day game seemed like the tipping point for many fans. For me, it was the Boston game about a week earlier. Now, social media and the internet in general is not a great place to find the entire spectrum of fans’ thoughts, but it is all we’ve got right now. And the internet says that the majority of fans want to see Tyreke traded if the Pelicans can get a deal where they recieve guys who are a better fit or picks or get to rid the team of Asik’s contract.

And while I have led this charge since the Boston game, it is fair to ask if myself and others are being too hard on Tyreke. I mean, the guy is putting up 16-7-6 with a 19 PER. That’s rarified air. We are talking about names like Westrbrook, Draymond Green, Lebron when you search those exact perameters. He is unquestionably putting up good, perhaps great numbers and is on a very good contract for that level of production. Not to mention he is doing this after returning from surgery, and you can probably hypothesize that he is not in top shape right now.

He started last season in average shape (at best), and got nicked up several times early on, which caused substandard production. Once he got into shape (early January), his production spiked dramatically, going from moderate efficiency (.494 TS%) to above average efficiency (.536 TS%) to go with his steller raw numbers. On top of that, he played through injuries that would have put many others on this team on the injured list. He was and is a warrior who produces and sacrifices his body for the good of the team, and history says that he might get even stronger as the year goes on.

So, why do I and so many others want him traded? I can’t speak for anybody else, but for me it is simple – This team has to get either dramatically better or dramatically worse (in order to eventually get better). This team, with Tyreke as its primary creator, will do neither. While his numbers rival those of game changing superstars, Tyreke Evans is not (and will never be) one of those guys. Not when it comes to winning games. He does not move the needle dramatically in the one area that truly matters – the win column.

Tyreke Evans raises this team’s floor, but also lowers its ceiling. They can’t be Lakers bad with him on the roster, and they can never be Warriors, Spurs, or Cavs good either if he is their primary decision maker throughout the game, and/or late in games. His ideal role would be as a 6th man destructive force off the bench that can occassionally finish games if he is on, but not be given the responsibility of determining the outcome on crucial plays.

For that to happen in New Orleans, they would have to acquire another top notch perimeter player that is undoubtably better than Tyreke. But how exactly would you propose they do that? If he stays on this team, they are likely picking 8th to 15th and it is hard to find a star there. They also won’t attract an elite free agent as a middling team in a small market. So as long as he is in New Orleans, he has to be a major part of what you do for 35 minutes, including those minutes late in the game. Oh, and then in 2017 you have to decide whether you want to give him a $100+ million contract or let him walk for nothing. Either sound appealing?

So, the desire to trade Evans does not stem from an idea that he is a bad player. Less than ideal fit? Absolutely. But if you swap out Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson for Kevin Durant, he would be fantastic as a 6th man that can give Jrue and KD a breather while also playing with them and AD down the stretch. But this season has ruined any chance of an elite player choosing New Orleans. Heck, I doubt a guy like Nic Batum even would consider it.

So this is where the Pelicans find themselves, and it’s not Tyreke’s fault. The fact that this system isn’t ideal for him and that the roster doesn’t have enough elite talent to allow him to play his best role is not an indictment on his raw talent – which he has plenty of by the way. He just so happens to be in a situation where he can benefit the franchise the most long term by going elsewhere and hopefully bringing back youth, picks, and flexibility.

So, are we being unfair to Tyreke? Yes, if you are saying that he is a bad player or that he is the reason we are losing. But I think the case I have laid out above is more than fair. Although, I understand that the internet might disagree.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.