Chandler Parsons Swings Tenure with Memphis Grizzlies in Right Direction

Chandler Parsons Swings Tenure with Memphis Grizzlies in Right Direction
3 takeaways from the Indiana Pacers opening night win
Tyreke Evans wore a red baseball cap to the Pacers season-opener on Wednesday, with a curious message on the crown:

It seemed inappropriate for a player whos found instant chemistry and contentment with a blue and yellow team, so it was enough to make one wonder if there was a hidden meaning.

MT: Yeah, thats definitely not always the case. With our culture, it didnt happen overnight. I think the guys just really want to be here and love being part of this team. We all got along so well last year at the start of training camp and it boiled over into the rest of the season and into this year. Whenever you can have that, its huge. We all get along and we love being together every day. Ive been on teams in the past where we wouldnt hang out off the floor. We may have gone out to dinner sometimes if we were on a road trip, but it wasnt like this. Now, were always hanging out, were going shopping together and things like that. Were just constantly around each other. With that, everyone gets to know each other better and its great.

Count that as the only ill-fitting moment for Evans related to the Pacers season-opening victory over Memphis on Wednesday. Coming off the bench, he contributed 14 points, six assists, four rebounds and just one turnover in his 23 ½ minutes.

I think Doug is a great addition and when he plays with confidence, hes just a great player. Hes so much more than just a shooter and thats what people dont realize about him. Hes pretty athletic and he guards people pretty well. He has a chance to really compete for a lot of minutes this year. I think Kyle OQuinn is going to be a big help for me and Domas because hes such a vocal guy and hes actually a really good defender. He challenges us in practice every day. And Tyreke is just… He’s just so good, man. Hes such a great pick-and-roll player. Hes still so underrated. I think hes great. I think he joined us because he wanted to be part of a great culture and thats definitely something we have here in Indiana.

Video: Chandler Parsons Hands Out 1000 Tickets To Home Opener at FedExForum

More than that, he provided several ah-hah moments that no doubt made some new friends within Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He put it out there for all to see, making the sort of instinctive plays that result from honing your game on a playground rather than a basketball camp.

MT: It was a lot of dedication, and it definitely took a team of people to make that happen. But, more than anything, it was a lot of work. I did this because there was a point last season when I just felt dead out there on the court – I felt so drained and I wasnt myself. I knew a lot of that was due to my eating habits and me not taking care of my body as well as I shouldve been. I think the biggest was just me wanting the best for myself, and my team obviously wanted whats best for me too. Once we got to the point where we started putting together a plan and we knew I had to make some big changes, we realized it was something that had to be done over the offseason. Then, we just executed the plan.

Year two of the Pacers Victor Oladipo era opens with a bang

“Ive always admired his game from afar, just seeing some of the things he can do,” Thad Young said following Thursdays practice at St. Vincent Center. “He has a great ability to make guys around him better. Hes grown and matured over the course of his career and hes been able to make sure guys are involved in the game.”

MT: Vics confidence is contagious, man. His confidence in himself and his confidence all throughout last season really helped us get through a lot. I mean, Ive never seen Vic in a bad mood. Never. His winning attitude and confidence and all that stuff is really contagious and everyone is ready to fall in line with him. With that being said, Vic is also really good at being able to flip that switch too. Hes this goofy person whos really fun to be around, but then once he gets on the floor? Everything changes and if youre competing against him, he wants to rip your heart out.

Grizzlies lose big on Opening Night in Indianapolis

While the Pacers had an effective pick-and-roll tandem with Lance Stephenson and Domantas Sabonis last season, the Evans-Sabonis pairing could be an upgrade, based on the micro sample size of Game 1. Like Stephenson, Evans has the size to see over defenses and the knack of getting a pass through traffic. Unlike Stephenson, he doesnt attempt a crowd-pleasing flair while doing so.

Flair, in fact, has no part in his persona, either on the court or off. While hardly friendless, and always pleasant, he tends to keep to himself and speak through his actions. His summation of his performance on Wednesday?

MT: Aaron is a really solid player. Ive been a fan of Aarons for a while. Hes very confident and hes always so poised. I think he could actually carve out some minutes and get some playing time . Hes easily one of the best players in practice every day, which is what you want to see from a rookie or young guy. Thats been big for him, and his confidence is through the roof. I think him having older brothers in the league really helped him get to this point. Im a really big fan of Aarons.

“Tyreke averaged 19 points last year (for Memphis) so everybody has to respect him,” Sabonis said. “That makes it easier for me to screen his man and then he makes his decision.

Edit Slot to 247Sports Home Slot to Indiana Hoosiers Newsletter Slot to Indiana Links   Year two of the Victor Oladipo era with the Indiana Pacers opened with a bang. It actually started before the tip. The final…

Evans might present a blasé demeanor, but hes clearly excited about having an essential role with the Pacers. And why not? Hes got a total of four playoff games to his credit, from his brief time with New Orleans in 2015. Hes not accustomed to winning, and not accustomed to positive team cultures.

The moment when Sabonis picked him up off the court midway through the fourth quarter meant something to him. Hes on his fifth stop in his 10th NBA season, and never experienced that brand of school spirit.

One asset the Indiana Pacers bench can leverage this season is size. While Joseph is 6’3, McDermott, Evans, and Sabonis are over the 6’6 mark. While Evans or McDermott aren’t great defenders, they aren’t giving up size to their opponents. It helps too that both aren’t slow on their feet, either.

Evans impressed in his Pacers debut, scoring 14 points and dishing six assists (Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images)

“Theres a big-time difference,” he said. “Just the energy we have as a team. Were always helping one another, picking one another up.

If Evans and McDermott continue to contribute, the game opens up for everyone as we saw on Wednesday. No one player is required to carry the weight by themselves. In a game where Victor Oladipo struggled early on, the reserves were building a lead and allowing him to rest.

“The organization is just amazing. Its one of the best organizations Ive ever played for, just the things they do and how they do it. Everythings a team thing and its about the players. Its definitely the best organization Ive been with.”

The most used bench lineup on Wednesday included those four and Thaddeus Young, a 6’10 power forward. With that much height, it is hardly surprising they grabbed the lion’s share or rebounds — 73.9 percent — when they shared the floor.

Evans arrived in the NBA from a different avenue than most players coming into the league these days. While most have been coached in school and AAU programs and often have been tutored by specialists, Evans game evolved from the asphalt and the lessons he learned from his older brothers.

Sabonis and Evans ran the pick and roll heavily to get possessions rolling and set up their teammates. Domas displayed the basketball IQ he is known for by switching up picks when the Grizzlies were aggressive and finding space to do his damage when given it.

One of them, Eric, who played point guard for Cheyney State, taught him about ballhandling in traffic and how to react in the open court. “Making me crafty, playing east and west,” Evans says. “When I get the ball I try to make the defense work. If they cut one way I try to go another.”

It’s hard to imagine Oladipo not having a field goal until four minutes left in the second quarter and the Pacers have that large of a lead last season against any team. They went 0-5 in games he missed with an injury and it seems like the Pacers are much more capable of keeping their heads above water if their superstar has to miss a few games this time around.

Memphis Grizzlies announce festivities for home opener tomorrow Friday, October 19 vs. Atlanta Hawks | Memphis Grizzlies

Another brother, Julius, described as a playground star in their hometown of Chester, Pa., worked with him on shooting, a late-arriving feature of Evans game.

He can certainly score the ball, Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan said of Evans after the blowout win. … but not only was he scoring but he was setting up teammates and getting guys really clean looks.  My challenge to Tyreke is to defend and rebound. If he does that, were going to have to find him minutes.

So hes been coached, but he does things that arent taught in the traditional coaching environments. Especially the things that can be done in the open court or in pick-and-roll situations.

Video: Grizzlies hit 5 three-pointers in the 2nd Quarter vs. Indiana Pacers

“Hes like a great running back in football, able to plant his feet and change direction and avoid people,” legendary coach Bob Hurley from St. Anthony High School in New Jersey told The New York Times when Evans was in high school.

Like many players who evolved from the playgrounds, Evans has a reputation as a “gamer,” a player who doesnt take practice as seriously as a coach might like but rises to the occasion when the lights come on. He doesnt deny it.

“Definitely,” he said. “Practice is not really my thing. When the lights come on, thats when I really come out and play.

“I still go hard and play the right way (in practice), but when the game is on it counts more so Im more active.”

The Hawks are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 1 days rest, 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 road games and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall. The Grizzlies are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games, 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games playing on 1 days rest and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall. The Hawks are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings in Memphis, the underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings and the road team is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. The under is 21-8 in Grizzlies last 29 Friday games and the under is 12-5 in Hawks last 17 road games. The Memphis Grizzlies have to be eager for a bounce back showing, as you dont see NBA teams shoot under 30 percent from the field very often. The Atlanta Hawks showed flashes offensively in their season opener, but Im not sure how much stock you put into that considering they played the New York Knicks. The Hawks are widely expected to be the worst team in the league this season. The Grizzlies are a prideful, veteran group that should put together a complete performance at both ends of the court against these young, raw Hawks. Ill eat the chalk.  

Pacers coach Nate McMillan smiled skeptically when Evans admission was presented following Thursdays practice.

Told yes, McMillan talked of the need to practice hard all the time, the mistake of thinking you can “flip the switch” and play better in games than in practice.

McMillan Gets His Point Across: Rebound

McMillan can afford to be patient, and even forgiving In Evans he has the ideal first guard of the bench, one who can play three positions and play with anybody because of his multiple skills. Evans stands 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. He weighs five pounds more than 6-foot-8 Bojan Bogdanovic, the same as 6-8 Young and only about five pounds less than 6-10 TJ Leaf and 6-8 Doug McDermott.

Evans can overpower smaller defenders and beat the taller defenders off the dribble. He can find open teammates more easily because of his height and finish around the basket in traffic because of his bulk, as he displayed on Wednesday.

Bogdanovic scores 19 points, Pacers rout Grizzlies 111-83 – Indiana Pacers

Besides, he appears to be conforming to his new environment. While he didnt stand out in the four preseason games and wasnt talked about much during training camp, some people who watched every practice claim he had been the best player. The way to make friends in any environment is to fit in, and Evans is doing that by playing harder in practice and doing the dirty work in games.

Indiana Pacers impose their will on the glass in blowout season opener

“The knock on him was that he doesnt play defense,” Young said. “But in training camp, once we explained to him what our culture was, he was all for it. The biggest thing for him, and a lot of guys who come to a team with a different culture, when they see the four guys theyre playing with playing defense and getting after it as hard as they can, it makes them want to help their teammates.

Young and Victor Oladipo were voted captains by the players on Monday. Oladipos selection wasnt surprising, because he won the Backbone Award selected by players after last season for his positive attitude and had organized an off-season workout in Miami.

Pacers open season with win at home – Sports

Young, though, is much quieter and less prominent than Oladipo. His selection was less obvious but equally telling.

Pacers rout Memphis 111-83 to kick off season

“It just says a lot about my character and professionalism,” he said. “Id say Im well-respected by a lot of guys around the league, and my teammates definitely showed it. Im very happy and enthused.

“I just try to lead by example, which is through my play on the court. When something needs to be said, I say it. You have some people who say stuff to say stuff. I dont say stuff to say stuff. I say stuff when it needs to be said. And I get guys to believe in what we do.”

Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Email him at and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieths book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, “Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis,” is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

Posted in Chandler