How much longer can the Indiana Pacers let Tyreke Evans underperform?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 04: Tyreke Evans #12 of the Indiana Pacers shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 4, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 04: Tyreke Evans #12 of the Indiana Pacers shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 4, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Tyreke Evans looks nothing like the player he was a season ago with the Memphis Grizzlies. Is there any hope for the Indiana Pacers that he improves?

While moments of #PeakReke surfaced this season, the Tyreke Evans the Indiana Pacers experienced so far this season isn’t anything like the one we saw a season ago with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Stating that Evans is half the player he used to be isn’t only a metaphor, it’s nearly statistically accurate. With the Grizz, he averaged 19.4 points while with Indiana that points per a game total dropped to 10.6. The field goal percentage also fell victim to whatever is troubling Evans as it dropped down 8.3 percent this season to 36.9 percent from the field. For perspective, the NBA average is just under 46 percent.

If there’s any solace to be found, it is in his 3-point shooting which stands at a respectable 37.1 percent. But nearly every statistic that matters paints an unflattering picture of Evans.

Things got worse for him even after Victor Oladipo left with his knee injury. After averaging 11.2 points on 40 percent shooting, his increased minutes led to 9.4 points on 31.3 percent shooting. There’s been a slight boost in his rebounds and assists as a starter compared to a reserve, but a change in his role wasn’t the answer to Tyreke’s troubles.

At least when he was coming off the bench, he was on the right side of +/- at a positive 4.1. But since he stepped in for Oladipo, his impact his a +/- of -1.2 per a game.

Does Tyreke Evans just need more time to fit in with the Indiana Pacers?

When talking to, Tyreke Evans said he is still working on fitting in with here in Indiana. While a quarter of the season is gone, it’s easy to forget teams, even last year’s Pacers took almost until January to hit their stride.

"“Just trying to fit in,” he said. “It’s different here. It’s definitely different than Memphis.“The offense is different, the pace is different. In Memphis it was similar to what Golden State runs, here there are more sets. It’s me getting comfortable with that and knowing where people are going to be most of the time.”Evans takes some confidence from his performance in Saturday’s loss at Sacramento, when he scored 12 points and had four assists, along with three turnovers.“The Sac game, I thought I was pretty aggressive,” he said. “They don’t need as much scoring out of me, but I need to be aggressive.”"

The Pacers need his aggressiveness, but there are enough games where he shoots worse than 4 for 10 to wonder if that’s really the issue. In nearly half his games he shot 33.3 percent or less from the field.

This isn’t a trick with the numbers either. Evans has only even made half his shots a handful of times, and he’s yet to break a 50 percent from the field in a single game.

But at some point, results are needed consistently. There can’t be as many off nights when he is expected to carry the weight of the Pacers’ offense in the absence of Oladipo. Evans needs to start fitting into what Indiana’s offense needs now. They can’t keep waiting for him to figure it out.

His head-strong nature benefits him at times, but at others, it looks like he is actively trying to go against screens and play outside of the framework of the rest of the team. Sometimes it the right idea, but other times it just creates the wrong sort of chaos.

And maybe because he really hasn’t adjusted to those new sets in Indiana, he goes off instinct. Coming off the bench he can get away with that more often as the second unit isn’t as structured of an environment.

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We saw Lance Stephenson thrive at times within the more chaotic nature of the second unit, and for the same reason, Evans’ contributions in that role are more positive. But when he fills in for Oladipo as a starter, freelancing isn’t working out as well.

Evans can run the pick and roll; it’s one of his strengths. But now when the initial action doesn’t work, he looks lost trying to put the play back together again.

The return of Oladipo, whenever that may be, might be the easiest way to fix what’s wrong with Evans’ game. But games are scheduled and the NBA isn’t waiting for the Pacers return to full-strength.

Until then, it’s completely unacceptable that Evans is one of only five players in the NBA shooting 10 or more shots a game and shooting 37.1 percent or less. Three of those players have played five games or fewer, and the other is Eric Gordon.

The Pacers don’t have time to wait

Evans isn’t this bad of a player, but until his shooting improves, he is hurting the Pacers when he is in the game.  And as a 29-year old veteran player, there’s a little more to his problems than just learning the sets with Indiana.

If this keeps up and Oladipo doesn’t return any time soon, you’re headed toward territory where the discussion on whether he is playable or not is warranted. You can’t shoot this poorly and play average defense and still start on a team in playoff contention. Though for now, coach Nate McMillan says there are no plans to take Evans out of the starting lineup.

The current version of Tyreke Evans isn’t a good basketball player. Period. The Pacers are 14-10 and hunting for home-court advantage. Currently, the win or two you could argue Evans cost the Pacers could have them as high as third or fourth place instead of fifth at the moment. Even if Evans improves — he almost certainly will — his drag on the team will be felt come playoff time.

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And at a $12 million price tag for this season, that’s $12 million that could have been spent on another player who wasn’t taking double-digit shots to get single-digit points.