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INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Pritchard acknowledges the health risk with Tyreke Evans.

It’s why the Pacers gave Evans just a 1-year contract this summer.

Even Evans said after signing with the Pacers “this is about me staying healthy” with the 28-year-old guard having been sidelined for large chunks of time throughout his career. Evans has played more than 72 games in just 1 of his 9 NBA seasons.

The Pacers won’t be blindsided if injuries flare up for Evans in Indiana.

But the guard assures he’s healthy, and once the Pacers heard that, there was no moving Evans off the No. 1 spot on the off-season wish list.

“At the beginning of free agency, we made out our wish list. You rank then, you re-rank them, then you go through it again, and Tyreke kept coming up as No. 1, no matter the model, or position,” Pritchard says.

“The thing that makes him so special is that he can affect a game by a couple of different things. He can go get a big rebound, he’s a great rebounding guard. He’s a great passer. But the thing that makes him so good is his size, strength and ability to get where he wants to on the court. He can get wherever he wants on the court. There’s no doubt about that. He’s just a beast driving to the basket.”

 

Nate McMillan has stated the Pacers will have Evans come off the bench, which makes sense given the need for a lead guard with that second unit.

 

Then, when late game situations do arise, having Evans and Victor Oladipo playing together will also occur.

 

“You have to have two guys who can make plays,” Pritchard says of the Oladiop/Evans combination. “We saw last year in the playoffs, with Victor in the pick and roll, you can take him out of his best thing. They would soft double it. They would hard double it, but they would make him pass it. But if you have two playmakers on the court, with shooting and being able to space, it’s tough to defend. In this league, you have to score points. The best teams are putting up big numbers. You have to go right back at them and be able to outscore them.

 

“We struggled when Victor went out. We were 0-8 (in games missed by Oladipo). I believe that given a healthy team and with these additions, we will have the ability to withstand that a little bit.”

 

A reason why the Pacers believe Evans and Oladipo can play together comes from both of them developing into better perimeter shooters in recent years.

 

Evans has seen his three-point numbers rise to 38.8{fab3f08856d3659b6f8938bb66207399a6d3abd1bf707f3e877b11f1c3809e02}, 35.6{fab3f08856d3659b6f8938bb66207399a6d3abd1bf707f3e877b11f1c3809e02} and 39.9{fab3f08856d3659b6f8938bb66207399a6d3abd1bf707f3e877b11f1c3809e02} the last 3 seasons.

 

Now, the days of defenders sagging off preparing for the drive from Evans can’t be so confident in that decision.

 

“What changed his game completely was his ability to shoot on the backside of the pick and roll,” Pritchard says of his new $12 million guard. “For 5, 6 years, you would go under (screens), and his pick and roll game it’s done. But now, literally with his three-point shooting, you have to go over.

 

“When the plan is to go over, now he’s attacking a big and when he’s attacking a big, he’s very good.”