Evans claimed to have no problem with performing either role. “I know small forward well enough to understand it,” he said. “A lot of it is just about being at the right spot. It’s a lot different from having the ball all the time. I’d definitely be comfortable with it if it came down to it.”
What about defending taller, and possibly more athletic, players at the small forward position, something he’s not overly familiar with? “I can definitely defend at the 3, from Carmelo to LeBron and Durant,” Evans said. “It won’t be easy, but I could do the job.”
As for coming off the bench, Evans is saying all the right things … so far. “If that’s what Coach [Monty Williams] is comfortable with doing, I’ll add firepower to the second unit and help build leads.”
Williams may be comfortable using Evans in a reserve role at times during the season, but is coming off the bench something Evans will willingly do? He’s only played 10 games in his career as a 6th man, including four last season (the Kings lost all four of those games). Here are his career splits as both a starter and a bench player:
It is a small sample, but the stats show Evans shoots and rebounds better as a bench player, which could actually be a good thing on a New Orleans team with more talented players on the roster than Evans had with the Kings. “I know Coach will have all three of us in at the end of games,” he said. And that seems to be what’s important, for now.
Something Evans also considers important is having a quality big man on his team, and that’s what he feels he has in rising star Anthony Davis. Evans got pretty excited when discussing Davis, giving a bit of an impromptu scouting report. “He works at such a high skill level, dribbling and passing out of the post, and we’ll get better together as we get to know each other,” he said.
Evans is really looking forward to pushing the pace with the Pelicans, noting that all five projected starters (himself included) can run the floor and play an up-tempo style of offense. “We’ll get easy baskets in transition and run from there,” he said.
Evans has spent a few weeks in New Orleans and said he’s pretty happy with his new city. He’s also shown his charitable side by going back to his hometown of Chester, Pa., and giving free eye exams, glasses and other health services to those in need with the help of his partners at VSP Vision Care. “It definitely means a lot to give back,” he said.
From his hometown in Chester to his new home, New Orleans, both are known for adverse conditions and giving back to the community. But Evans’ focus will soon shift from service off the court to living up to his large contract on the court. Evans thinks the Pelicans have enough talent on the team to make the to the playoffs for the first time in his career, eclipsing a few other teams in an absolutely stacked and deep Western Conference.
“With the new people we brought in, that should be enough,” Evans said. “We’re going to make an impact and be a good team.”
And by playing on a good New Orleans team with a strong coach and talented teammates, Evans will have already gained the consistency and stability that has eluded him for half a decade.
Shlomo Sprung loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter.