In one of the more low-key steals of the summer, the Grizzlies were able to sign former Memphis Tiger Tyreke Evans to a 1 year $3.3 million deal.
Evans’ addition brings added playmaking and athleticism to a team that has lacked it in years past. It has yet to be determined whether or not Evans ability will be used with the starters or with the bench unit.
2016-2017 Season in Review
The main reason the Grizzlies were able to sign Evans to such a cheap deal is because his health has been a question mark the past few seasons. Evans averaged 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists last season, but only appeared in 40 games with both the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings after being limited to 25 games the season before. Evans was a solid contributor on two pretty bad teams last year in his limited action. The most positive thing from Evans 2016-2017 season is that he upped his 3 point attempts to 3 a game and shot 35%, which is much higher than his career average of 29%.
Of all the Grizzlies players, Tyreke probably has the most undefined role. When Evans signed, some fans rejoiced claiming him to be the new backup point guard behind Mike Conley. Having Mario Chalmers, Andrew Harrison, and Wade Baldwin IV on the current roster (and the fact that Evans has never been listed as a PG) shuts down that idea. Some fans believe that Evans will be the starting shooting guard, especially with Ben McLemore out for the first few weeks of the season. However, I think Evans’ role should be the first wing off the bench.
One of the biggest problems for the Grizzlies last year was their offense disappeared when Conley and Gasol stepped off the court. Zach Randolph did a great job steadying the ship, but quite frankly the Grizzlies didn’t have enough play makers on the court to compete without Mike or Marc on the floor. Having Tyreke come off the bench and be that lead playmaker or facilitator with both the starters and bench unit. He may not be the official backup point guard, but I’d bet Fizdale uses Evans as a primary ball handler to help out Chalmers, Harrison or Baldwin similar to the way the Rockets used James Harden last year. Having Evans come off the bench helps Fizdale stagger minutes to allow Conley to play off the ball more.
2017-2018 Best Case Scenario
The best case scenario for Evans and the Grizzlies is mainly if Evans stays healthy. If Evans can stay healthy, I have no doubt that Coach Fizdale will find many different ways to use his talents to help the team.
I think the best case scenario for the Grizzlies would be if Evans can come off the bench, continue to improve his 3 point shooting and average close to 15 points a game. If Evans can do that, while staying healthy, he should be able to compete heavily for the 6th Man of the Year Award.
2017-2018 Worst Case Scenario
The worst case scenario for Evans would be if his career continues to go down the path it has the last few seasons and he can’t stay healthy. Paying Evans $3.3 million looks like a steal right now, but Grizzlies fans will be quick to say he isn’t worth it if he can’t stay on the court.
Taking health out of the equation, the worst case scenario for Evans would be if his 3 point shooting dips back down to his career average of 30%. If Evans isn’t respectable from deep, it’ll be easier for teams to guard his drives to the rim.
I think you have to keep Evans injury history in mind when evaluating your expectations for him this upcoming season. As much as I’d like to see the best case scenario happening, I just don’t see Evans staying healthy all season. He’s bound to get banged up at some point, especially considering his attacking style of play.
However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect 65-ish games from Tyreke with him staying around the 35% shooting from deep like last season. He may not average the 15 points a game I’d like to see, but if he can be another ball handler and facilitator to take some of the pressure off of Conley then I think most Grizz fans can be happy.