Evans did not play in Sunday night’s 93-81 loss to Brooklyn despite head coach Monty Williams playing 11 Pelicans players in the game. When asked why Evans didn’t play, Williams said “it’s just internal right now.”
Evans and the New Orleans public relations staff declined to comment on the matter after the game, deferring to the head coach and saying that Williams “had said it all before.” Williams could have said he was hurt or he was resting, but the unique language of the explanation could imply that there’s something more going on.
It’s no secret that Evans has struggled in acclimating to the Pelicans after coming over in a sign-and-trade with Sacramento that netted Evans a four-year contract worth $44 million. He told Sheridan Hoops before the season in a wide-ranging interview that he would be comfortable coming off the bench, not playing the point guard position and he’d do whatever it took to help New Orleans win.
Now as we approach the All-Star break, Evans appeared frustrating with his injuries, “fluctuating” playing time and his communication with Williams.
“He’s trying to figure me out still,” Evans said of his head coach before the game. “Most of the guys that came here are pretty much new [to the team] so he’s trying to fit everybody in and put me in the best position he can.”
But when asked whether he and Williams ever discussed his best role on the team openly, Evans said it’s never been brought up.
Asked if the communication with Williams has to improve, Evans said that it needed to improve. “It has to get better. We have to know our roles on the team.”
It seems like Evans is overloaded with responsibilities for the Pelicans coming off the bench, and it’s impacting his play on the court.
“I have more roles than the team I was on before so it’s tough trying to adjust to all those spots,” he said. “The system is different but it’s not anything I can’t get through.”
Evans said he’s felt rushed on the court, trying to do so many different things to help his teammates while he’s out there on the floor.
“Sometimes I think I feel like I have to do too much instead of playing my game and letting it come to me,” he said. And that’s a direct byproduct of trying to keep his playing time up.
“When I’m out there, I just have to try to perform so I can keep my minutes up,” Evans said. “And then it gets bad on me because I’m trying to rush things. When I let the game come to me, that’s how I always play and I create that way. ”
And all that rushing is affecting his shot. Take a look at how far he’s fallen in shooting the ball since he came to the Pelicans.
|Evans||Minutes||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Reb||Assists||PER||e FG %||O Rating||D Rating||Win Shares/48|
His minutes are down since he’s not starting. His field goal percentage is down more than 7.5 percent and his 3-point shooting has cratered to an incredibly woeful 15.2 percent. His rebound and assist numbers are good as he tried to help his teammates, but his efficiency and points per 100 possessions, as well as his per-minute win shares, have plummeted.
Being rushed is affecting how he shoots. “I’m anxious to help my team get points on the board,” Evans said. “But it can’t just be about scoring, it’s gotta be about passing and trying to figure out what I can do to help this team win.”
Evans’ per-36-minute numbers are actually better this year in the major statistical categories, but that’s become moot because his playing time with the Pelicans has gone down significantly from his 2012-2013 season with the Kings.
|Per 36 Minutes||Points||Rebounds||Assists||Steals|
New Orleans players didn’t openly discuss what was going on with Evans, but readily talked about how important he is to this Pelicans franchise.
“He’s a big part of what we’re doing here,” forward Al-Farouq Aminu said. “We’re really excited about all the things he’s done.”
Point guard Brian Roberts said that Evans has been aggressive from the start. “We all know the type of player that he is and he’s shown that on the court,” Roberts said. “To have a guy of that caliber to come in as the 6th man, that’s huge for this team.”
That aggressiveness Roberts referred to could be because of the rushed way Evans said he’s played. As New Orleans’ big-name offseason acquisition, this pressure to perform and stay on the court has affected his shooting percentages.
Not communicating well with the head coach probably hasn’t helped matters either.
Shlomo Sprung is a national columnist for Sheridan Hoops who 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 should follow him on Twitter.