The Memphis Grizzlies have developed a grit and grind mantra that has carried them through three head coaches in almost a decade. However, the 2017 offseason saw the end of the Grizzlies’ run for two staples of this era, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen. The Grizzlies were expected to take a step back this year, but have started off the season strong. One of the major components of their season has been Tyreke Evans who has started off the year strong.
Evans has been a top reserve for the Grizzlies this year. He has played off the bench with quality NBA players like Mario Chalmers and Chandler Parsons. The Grizzlies bench has the second highest net rating in the NBA according to NBA.com and Evans has been a big part of that. While it is very early in the season, there are signs that Evans may be able to sustain his numbers.
Evans has not shown the type of dominance he has had this year since his first few promising years in Sacramento. He was the 2009-2010 NBA Rookie of the Year. Evans averaged 20 points per game that season; he has not averaged 20 per game in a season since that year. Evans played in only 202 of 328 possible games over the last four years. This diminished his value enough for the Grizzlies to get him on a one year, $3-million-dollar contract.
So far this year, Evans is averaging 18.5 points per game on 51.3 percent field goal percentage. He has also added a 42.9 percent mark from 3-point range. Evans has not shown much consistency from the 3-point line as he shot 29 percent in five years in Sacramento and 30 percent for four years in New Orleans from 3-point territory. However, since the 2015-16 season, Evans has hit 37 percent of his threes. While this has been in a small number of games, it is possible that Evans had recreated his shot properly. Evans and his high percentage of shots in the paint have fit well on a Grizzlies team that is fourth in the league in restricted area attempts. A drive heavy game has worked well for Evans because of the 3-point shot he has developed.
The main factor behind Evans sustaining his season averages is health. He has played more than 70 games only three times in his career and he has played in only 65 games over his last two seasons. If the Grizzlies hope to survive Mike Conley’s early absence, they will need Evans to continue to play this way. If Evans can continue the yearly trend of failed top prospects to have renaissance seasons, he may even claim the sixth man of the year award as he has played every game off the bench.