Evans, who averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 assists, and 5.1 rebounds while shooting a career-best 39.9 percent from three on 5.5 attempts per game (2.5 more than the season prior), could realistically play beside Victor Oladipo in a Houston-style rotation or take on the mantle of sixth man from Lance Stephenson.
The 2010 Rookie of the Year shot above 40 percent on threes off the dribble last season, something only Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry accomplished on at least three attempts per game, and he scored at a comparable rate (1.043 points per possession) to Oladipo in isolation (1.052).
In other words, if Oladipo has an off night, Evans would be capable not only of creating his own shot but perhaps, maybe even, crosses fingers (gasp) covering for him.
“If you’re watching the playoffs right now, you have to have multiple ballhandlers to make plays,” Pritchard told reporters when Larry Bird stepped down from making player personnel decisions. “You can take one guy out all the time. It’s tough to take two guys out, and almost impossible to take out three.”
The Pacers got outscored by 7.3 points per 100 possessions when Oladipo was on the bench last season, and the team’s aggregate bench net rating (minus-2.1) finished in the red for a second consecutive season.
The free agent’s shooting, though it may not continue to be quite as blistering, doesn’t appear to be a contract year anomaly, either. The nine-year veteran’s accuracy — whether off the pass or dribble — has been above 35 percent each of the last three seasons despite the fact that he’s steadily increased his per game volume on those shots and dealt with injuries (FYI: He hasn’t played 60 games in a season since 2014-15).
When Evans attacks the paint as a playmaker, his ability to draw and shake bodies to and from the ball with hesitations and head fakes points toward him being a match for the league’s most prolific pick-and-roll offense as well as Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, in particular.
With Marc Gasol, who was one of only two players (the other was Indiana’s starting center) to attempt over 200 field goals when popping, Evans would toss throwback passes with controlled timing.
For rollers, he can generate open looks under the rim with wrap-around passes, one-handed lobs, and drop-offs.
Memphis ranked in the bottom third of the league in three-point field goal percentage as well as three-point attempts per 100 possessions, so the 28-year-old scorer didn’t have the privilege, nor sometimes the inclination, to wheel-and-deal in a spacious offense, but he has the sort of live-dribble skip passes in his passing arsenal that Oladipo still needs to master with more consistency.
Here, for instance, Evans sets up his defender with a behind-the-back dribble before going away from the pick, forcing the screener’s man to commit, and hitting the open spot-up shooter.
Evans isn’t pass-first nor will he overwhelm in transition where Oladipo dominates, but he’s enough of a multi-talented scorer and dynamic pick-and-roll threat to believe he can tag team the offensive burden when the high-octane guard is on the bench or bear it in tandem — assuming his career-high usage rate (28.7 percent) can adjust for no longer needing to show out on a bad team without ruffling feathers — when they share the floor.
Per Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights, the Pacers can still generate around $5 million in space if they stretch Al Jefferson’s $4 million cap hit and waive Ike Anigbogu and Alex Poythress.
The one-year deal also allows Indiana’s brass to maintain financial flexibility for next season.