As college basketball fans immerse themselves in the brackets and upsets of March Madness, New Orleans Pelicans swingman Tyreke Evans is generating his own personal madness this month.
No other player in the NBA has stepped up his scoring in March as much as Evans has managed to do.
Evans was averaging 12 points per game, but this month, that number has skyrocketed to 22.3 points per game. The 16.3 point per game increase is #1 in the NBA.
Clearly Evans’ move into the Pelicans starting lineup in place of small forward Al Farouq Aminu is paying valuable offensive dividends. Coach Monty Williams says there may be more to come, as Evans and power forward Anthony Davis grow together.
"He and A.D. have really developed a synergy, especially in pick-and-roll situations," Williams said. "We want to take better advantage of that in the future."
Davis chalks up the connection between Evans and himself to unfiltered communication between mature professionals, two men who respect the joint goal of holding each other accountable.
"We talk, we tell each other what needs to be said," Davis said. "If he misses something, I’ll curse him out and he knows it. The whole team is like that. We’re not afraid to tell each other where we can all be better."
Williams is game-planning several tweaks to his rotation to better utilize Evans’ diverse skill set.
Playing a starting role in Sacramento during his tenure as a King has helped Evans develop an impressive sense of when to pass versus when to shoot.
"I want to try Tyreke as a point guard in certain situations," Williams said. "I want to see what he can do with the ball in his hands as a lead guard. He certainly has the ability to play that position."
Williams would call for that change only at specific times though, specifically when the reserves are on the floor.
"No, I don’t want him pressured with that role all game," Williams said. "That wouldn’t suit him."
Evans has certainly flourished in the starting small forward role, alongside Brian Roberts at point guard. Evans believes as he learns to read and play off of Roberts more, his production will increase even more.
Despite the dramatic scoring results Evans has recorded in his starting lineup spot, Williams’ ideal place for Evans is still off the bench. Williams is concerned about the size of his starting lineup when Evans plays alongside Roberts and shooting guard Eric Gordon.
"From a scoring perspective, it’s great," Williams said. "But defensively we’re a little small. I get concerned about our ability to switch, which is what all the premiere defenses do well."
The silver lining to being a team that is soundly out of playoff contention right now is that Williams and his staff now have 14 more games to experiment with little consequence.