Should Tyreke Evans be losing minutes?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 08: Tyreke Evans #12 of the Indiana Pacers is seen during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 8, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 08: Tyreke Evans #12 of the Indiana Pacers is seen during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 8, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Tyreke Evans has been really struggling on the court recently. Should he lose some playing time for the Indiana Pacers?

Tyreke Evans has not been what the Indiana Pacers needed. His recent play has been bad; he’s coughing the ball up, he’s missing shots from all over the place, and he doesn’t look like he’s giving it his all at times.

Evans was supposed to be a solution. He was supposed to be a shot creator when Victor Oladipo was being honed in on by the defense. Instead, the team is -17 when Vic and Tyreke share the floor, and the offensive rating is a substandard 99.5 in these situations. That is bad.

His individual offense has been pretty bad, too. he’s shooting 47.1 percent from 0-3 feet, an embarrassing number. It’s lower than Bojan Bogdanovic‘s 3-point percentage. In terms of overall impact on the offensive end, he is playing at the worst level of his career. His offensive box plus/minus is -3.6, a level of bad he has never even sniffed before.

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So far, it isn’t working. Evans is just not offering the Indiana Pacers much on offense. It’s been 33 games, which is nearly half the season. Perhaps Evans could still figure it out with the team, but he’s running out of time. The question has to be asked: should Evans lose his minutes?

This question would be moot if it weren’t for the emergence of Aaron Holiday. Holiday has surprised everyone, even his believers, with his play this season. He plays confidently and offers a jolt of impact on the offensive end thanks to good touch around the rim and quick bursts of speed.

When the Pacers are fully healthy, Holiday doesn’t get playing time. He is player number 10 in a 9 man rotation. That is tough to see for Pacers fans. Holiday has some rookie moments, but he does some good things and is clearly developing well. Watching him not play while Evans struggles is frustrating, it seems like an obvious solution: play Holiday instead of Evans.

While I agree that the aura surrounding Holiday is vastly superior to that of Tyreke Evans, I’m not sure I agree with this rotation maneuver. Expectations are part of the problem here. Holiday is a rookie. His expectations literally don’t exist. When he does something good, he is exceeding expectations. That happens frequently enough that it appears Holiday is doing better than he is actually doing.

Meanwhile, Tyreke is in the opposite situation. He had incredibly high expectations coming into this season, and he has met none of them. Every move he makes is met with extreme scrutiny, and it makes his struggles more brightly magnified.

Between the two players, Evans is better. His defense is better thanks to his massive size for a guard and his rapid foot speed. He offers more spacing thanks to his reputation he has built as a scorer over his 9-year career (that, and he’s shooting over 10 percent better from deep than Holiday). He understands the speed of the NBA game better. There are more situations for the Pacers where Evans is useful to the team than Holiday because of these factors.

But the rub is obvious: playing Evans takes away developmental playing time from Holiday. Clearly, Holiday has a future with this team. Him refining his skills in the NBA is valuable and something the Indiana Pacers are certainly attempting to do each and every day. When he is only getting garbage time minutes, he isn’t developing as much as he would be if he was playing 10-15 minutes against rotation level players.

The solution is not easy. What do the Pacers value more? Tyreke has a slightly higher chance of helping you win basketball games, but Holiday’s development helps the team more in the future. It’s an interesting thought exercise.

Another factor in Tyreke’s favor: the more he plays, the more likely he is to “figure it out” with the current iteration of the team. If that happens, it heightens the squads ceiling. But if he keeps being… not good, then you probably should pull the plug on him in lieu of Aaron Holiday. It makes the most sense for the long-term future of the team.

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What’s more important to you, winning games or developing promising players? The answer to that question determines the answer to the question presented in the title. Should Tyreke Evans be losing minutes? Maybe not yet, but the time might be coming.