Pelicans Throughout History: Tyreke Evans


Welcome to the “Pelicans Throughout History” series.

What I’m going to do in this collection of articles is take the best players from the New Orleans Pelicans, and then dump them in specific historic NBA eras. I will measure for statistical changes, adjust for varying pace, and discuss the non-analytical differences between the various periods.

To do this, I’ve chosen three NBA seasons to teleport them into: The 1961-1962 NBA season, the 1975-1976 ABA season, and the 1992-1993 NBA season.

The 60’s being a time of legendary stat-lines and unbreakable records, the late 70’s being a time of flashy transition play with little focus on defense, and the early 90’s being a tough and physical era without the advantages of illegal hand-checking and outside shooting.

So, we know how good Tyreke Evans is today, but how good could he have been in the past?

Apr 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Tyreke Evans (1) shoots over Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during the second half of a game at Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Rockets 105-100. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Teleportation #1: The 61′-62′ NBA Season

As we covered in the “Pelicans Throughout History: Anthony Davis” article right you can read right here, the 60’s were a time when most mythical NBA records were set.

What we did with Davis was take his raw season averages from this past season, and adjusted them for the 60s pace, while increasing his minutes to match the bigs of that era. We’re going to do the same thing with Tyreke, but for now I want to talk more about the non-statistical advantages he would have, something I didn’t cover with Davis.

Davis would have measured basically the same as Bill Russell in the 60s. Russell was 6’9″ without shoes (his listed height), while Davis is about 6’9.5″ without shoes, and probably about 6’11” in them (though 6’10” is his listed height).

This means that Davis’ skills would translate and help him dominate (like Russell), though he wouldn’t have a huge physical advantage over the competition (like Wilt did).

Tyreke on the other hand, would have huge physical advantage over guards of that era.

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Assuming he plays Point Guard like 6’5″ Oscar Robertson did, he would have roughly 3-5 inches, and anywhere from 20-30 pounds on anyone trying to guard him. That’s a huge advantage in an era when most NBA players were nowhere near as quick and athletic as him, in addition to being significantly smaller.

Now, Tyreke averaged 16.6 Points, 6.6 Assists, and 5.3 Rebounds last season in 34.1 minutes a game. The Pelicans also played at a pace which netted them 91.4 possessions per 48 minutes. Let’s say we teleport him into 1962, and put him on Oscar Robertson’s Royals, while kicking the Big-O off the team and making Tyreke the starting point guard.

First let’s adjust the pace. When you take Tyreke’s current averages, and adjust them for the ’62 Royals pace (124.9 possessions per 48 minutes), his season averages jump to 22.7 Points, 9.0 Assists, and 7.2 rebounds a game.

But wait! Just like with Davis and Wilt, there’s more!

Oscar Robertson played 44.3 minutes a game during the ’62 season, and at this point we only have Tyreke playing 34.1. If they traded places, wouldn’t Tyreke play the same minutes Oscar? He’s responsible for the same role right?

When you adjust for minutes, in addition to pace, you can calculate that if Tyreke was in Oscar’s place, he would average…

29.2 Points, 11.6 Assists, and 9.2 Rebounds per game.

Under those exact same conditions, Oscar averaged 30.8 Points, 11.4 Assists, and 12.5 Rebounds per game. If you asked an NBA legend from the 60s if the difference between Oscar and Tyreke was 1.6 Points, -.2 Assists, and 3.3 Rebounds he would probably slap you, but then you could show him my article, and talk to him about pace adjustments and minutes differences and maybe he would… no he would probably still slap you. Probably harder actually.

Teleportation #2: The 75′-76′ ABA Season

Now your eyes are probably tired from all this reading, so let’s take a short break. The most convincing argument I have for why Tyreke was built for the ABA is this; a George Gervin highlight video, next to a Tyreke Evans highlight video.

George “The Iceman” Gervin

Tyreke Evans

Look at those identical finger-rolls! There’s absolutely no way Tyreke wouldn’t dominate the same way Gervin did. They played in eras where flashy play was encouraged, scorers has freedom to be inefficient, and defenders were so much less intelligent than they are today.

This is why the 70’s would be earn my vote for #1 teleportation destination for Tyreke. His stats don’t quite look as jaw-dropping as the mythical 60s (19.4 Points, 7.7 Assists, and 6.2 Rebounds), but his flashy breakneck play style would be appreciated significantly more in an era when priority number one was entertainment.

ABA Official Basketball 1970’s

Another thing worth noting, the total combined three-point average for the ABA during that season was just 29.5%. Tyreke is considered a bad outside shooter in the modern spacing centric NBA, but back then his season average of 30.4 would be right there just slightly above the competition, giving him what would be considered an even more complete offensive game.

Also, he would look like a total “badass” with an afro.

Teleportation #3: The ’92-’93 NBA Season

If you read the Anthony Davis piece from a few days ago, you’ll know I was slightly pessimistic about how AD would handle the giant big men of the 90s. In contrast, I feel like the 90s would have been a fantastic time for Tyreke to play. Anthony Davis was born at just the right time, while Tyreke was probably born to soon.

It’s not really worth your time to do a pace adjustment and minutes adjustment, since the 90s aren’t drastically different from the modern era in that respect. Instead, I want to talk about what made the 90s so difficult for perimeter players, and why Tyreke would succeed in spite of it.

Firstly, shooting threes in the 90s was still looked at as sort of a cheap way to earn points. Coaches weren’t interested in letting players take copious amounts of outside shots, even if they were hitting them efficiently. It’s not that they thought it was a “sissy” way to operate, it’s just that the idea back then was that, (as Charles Barkley likes to say) “Jump-shooting teams don’t win.”

Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) talks to the media after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s how I’m guessing a conversation between Tyreke and his 90s coach would go on the subject of three-point shooting:

90s Coach: “Hey Tyreke, great job dropping 26 on MJ last night, I wanted to go over tomorrows game plan with you. Basically, we would love to see you focus on throwing your body at the rim, or taking contested long two pointers instead of shooting from deep. How’s that sound ‘Reke?

Tyreke: On it.

That’s the end of the conversation. The difference is that Tyreke could take contested twos, or just throw himself at the rim without looking for open shooters, and everyone would cheer. Instead of the way we tend to groan when he does things like this…

Another reason perimeter players struggled in the 90s; hand checking was still legal. Basically, it’s a lot harder to drive in the lane when forwards way stronger than you are allowed to push and body you mid-dribble. Tyreke’s ridiculous strength would allow him to emerge as one of the few players in the league who can succeed in spite of outdated physicality violations.

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You’re probably thinking “Wait, but wouldn’t hand checking make him less effective though? How is that a better era for him then today when It’s illegal?” and you’re correct. In a vacuum, it’s a disadvantage. The counter-argument is that it would be a significant disadvantage for everyone, while it’s just a slight disadvantage for Tyreke.

Basically reliable penetrators would be less common back then, making Tyreke a hot commodity. I’m not sure that makes the 90s a better place for him then the circus party that was the ABA, but it’s worth noting.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the 2nd episode of the “Pelicans Throughout History Series” here at Big Easy Believer. The only other two players I will for sure be teleporting back are Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik, but if you’d like to see another player researched please comment below.

Until then, you can go back and read the “Pelicans Throughout History: Anthony Davis” article, or just spend the day imagining Tyreke with an Afro. Either way, you’ve learned more about history……..

Next: Pelicans Throughout History: Anthony Davis