Getting to Know Jrue Holiday

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Published: June 29, 2013
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Perhaps the biggest benefit of being a part of the ESPN TrueHoop Network is that you have a collection of dedicated writers available to share information at the drop of a hat. When the trade went down with Philadelphia on Thursday night, it seemed only naturally to reach out to Hoop76 Editor Tom Sunnergren for an in-depth look at the newest edition to the New Orleans Pelicans roster. The following is a Q&A that hopefully gives us a little insight about Holiday that can’t be found in the box scores.

We see the stats, but tell us things that the numbers don’t tell us about Jrue Holiday, the player

He’s one of the best handfuls of defensive guards in basketball, which an area of the game that the stats are still mostly mute on. (This is one of the reasons why he’s, probably, a bit underrated by measures like PER and Win Shares. Granted, the way he grades out in those systems is a little troubling.) He’s got great footwork, quick hands, is stronger than he looks, and on many nights, can guard three positions.

He’s also a tremendously personable and likable guy. He’s bright, engaging and engaged, and a great interview. By both fans and media, he’s beloved in Philadelphia. We were all really rooting for the kid, and while the conventional wisdom in the Tri-State area is that the trade was a win for the 76ers, he’ll be missed.

How about Holiday’s intangibles? Is he a leader and/or a a high character guy? What about his effort and motor?

In addition to the effusive praise above, Jrue really–even among cocksure NBA athletes–is possessed of unusual self-confidence. When Ben McLemore was being dissected in the run-up to this year’s draft, a talking point I heard again and again was that he’s easily discouraged; if he misses the first two shots of a half, I think Chad Ford said, he’ll shut down and disappear. That is not what Jrue Holiday does. I remember last spring being at Game 4 of the Bulls-Sixers series, and Holiday started off dreadfully from the floor. He was missing every which way–something like a 1-for-12 start on what was, up to that point at least, the biggest game of his career. But he just kept working for good looks and eventually found them. He finished with a 20/8/6 line and the Sixers went up 3-1 in a series they went on to win. He was 22-years-old.

It is hard not to notice the dramatic dip in Holiday’s numbers late in the season. How much of this had to do with the Doug Collins situation and can you go into exactly what happened with the Sixers late in the season for all our readers?

2012-13 was an unmitigated disaster for the Sixers. A Murphy’s Law season. The team acquired Bynum, expectations rose accordingly, and when he was unable to play, the whole thing collapsed–laying bare the problems with the Sixers organization a little bit of winning and optimism had obscured. These being: the aversion to analytics, the wrongheaded shot selection/offensive system (midrange jump shots!), goofy roster moves (signing Kwame Brown, Nick Young, etc.), and, of course, Doug Collins. All of these things are heavily interrelated.

So things are going bad, and a lot of folks in the media, and in the stands, start calling for the team to tank. Doug Collins refuses to tank on account of “pride” or “love for the city of Philadelphia” or something, says as much, then proceeds to lean even harder on the team–a team he already leaned quite hard on to begin with; dude’s overbearing–as though he were trying to prove a point. Collins tightens the rotation, starts barking on the sidelines like every night’s Game 7 of the Finals, etc.

So this is the backdrop. How, precisely, did this affect Jrue Holiday? I’m not sure. His numbers did drop precipitously (he posted a 12.7/4.2/3.3 line in April on 33.8% shooting), but it’s not clear how much of the blame belongs to Collins. Jrue’s playing time was stable from month to month, and actually dropped to 30.8 a night in the season’s final month, but he did–for the first time in his career–have an almost cartoonish amount of responsibility on both sides of the floor. He WAS the Sixers in 12-13. He’s only 23, but it’s possible this just wore him out. That he buckled a little under the weight of Doug Collins and all the other stuff.

Since coming into the league, where have the biggest growths in Jrue Holiday’s game been and what does he still have left to work on?

Especially this past season, he’s gotten much better at creating–both for himself and his teammates–off the drive. He’s borderline elite at getting to the basket.

Which brings us to the problem with Holiday: while he can get to the basket, he doesn’t always choose to. He has a disconcerting habit of settling for 18-footers early in the shot clock–this, again, might merely be a product of Collins’ influence–and his efficiency as a scorer suffers for it. If he’s going to take the next step, he absolutely has to improve his shot selection. Period.

Lastly, knowing Jrue Holiday’s game, what would be the ideal components to put on the court around him to help him thrive?

A big fella to wreak your garden variety pick-and-roll havoc with and, at the 2-4 spots, perimeter oriented guys who can stretch the defense, creating enough space for Jrue to continue to hone his dribble/drive slash-and-kick game. Sound like any team you know?

Tom Sunnergren is an Editor for Hoop76.com – the ESPN TrueHoop Network blog for the Philadelphia 76ers. The site is a fantastic read for not just fans of the 76ers, but fans of the NBA in general. Be sure to check it out. 

29 comments
LaNative
LaNative

It's a Nawlins Holiday!  Hahaha

JayDogon
JayDogon

The best part about trading for Jrue let's the fans and league know that we're serious about becoming a real contender. Think about all the marketing potential we gave away in Nerlens, be it "The Block Party in New Orleans" "Nerlens In Nawlins" or his throwback high top fade. None of that is about what the actual team on the court would have been though. Dell showed his genius and though I was happy when we got Noel that excitement level rose tenfold when I found out we got Jrue. Geaux Pels

RobertWelch
RobertWelch

If we can stay healthy next year (*cough, Eric Gordon, cough*) and assuming a good SF is found, the Pelicans may be next years team nobody want's to play, especially in the playoffs. We might not be contenders to go to the finals next year, but we may knock someone out of the playoffs who is if they are unfortunate to meet the Pelicans early.

I have no problems with sending the picks to Philly for Jrue, the chances of getting a player like him with any pick lower than 5 is not good, and he is proven and ready to take this team to the next level now. Waiting around another year or two to see if we can put together a winning combination is just wasting the talent we have today. Winning breeds more winning, I'm sure that's what Monty & Dell are thinking, and getting a player like this today who can put your team into the conversation will do more to advance us for the next few years than any potential the lottery has to do so. If we go another 2 years without making the playoffs, then it becomes a big question if you are going to keep all the assets you have now, like AD and Anderson. When you start getting to the later parts of their contracts, and you still haven't seen success on the court, they will get frustrated because they know it will be less likely you ever will. Jrue is a player to gives you a chance to win now, and that gives you a path to winning even more later. This one move may make us better in 3 years, more likely to compete deep in the playoffs then, than keeping the picks would. If we aren't able to go deep in the playoffs in 3 years, then you'll probably start looking at blowing up the team then anyway. The time is now, and the player is Jrue.

Welcome to the Nest Jrue, time to make the Pelicans fly.

yaboytonez
yaboytonez

I'm going to get the Jrue Holiday Crazy quick kicks lol. May as well support him now he's a Pelican.

504ever
504ever

This last part blew me away. It's almost like the Pelicans were building to add Jrue.  Last piece is adding starting SF with a good perimeter shot, and we have options there in free agency.  I am so pumped about next year!

"Lastly, knowing Jrue Holiday’s game, what would be the ideal components to put on the court around him to help him thrive?

A big fella to wreak your garden variety pick-and-roll havoc with and, at the 2-4 spots, perimeter oriented guys who can stretch the defense, creating enough space for Jrue to continue to hone his dribble/drive slash-and-kick game. Sound like any team you know?"

Jared Ennis
Jared Ennis

Great news! People will be shocked to see how much better we will be with a true All-Star point guard. I called one of my friends in Philly, and he couldn't believe that we stole him away. Also, is anybody else getting their Jrue Holliday jersey the day it becomes available?

JJacob
JJacob

You were right Mike, I want to marry this trade now.

yaboytonez
yaboytonez

Nice article. I've always liked Holiday's defense. His athleticism reminds me of Westbrook, on the other hand so do his shot selections & turnovers. Nonetheless, he is growing on me. I can no longer deny that he is a solid pickup.

LaNative
LaNative

Holiday in Nawlins....I'm on a roll!!!

RobertWelch
RobertWelch

In thinking about this more, I really feelthe Pelicans had to make this kind of move. This is mostly about Anthony Davis, and making the most of him. When they got him, that was the determining focus for the team going forward. I'm no expert, but from what I can see he has the ceiling of Tim Duncan, a high talent indeed. To make the most of that talent, the best thing the Pelicans can do is win. The difference between AD and TD in comparing their careers is that TD started off winning, and learned how to right away. AD was probably on a losing team for the first time in his life last year. That is ok, it teaches him how hard it is to win at this level. But any other losing seasons, and missing the playoffs, do nothing to help him reach his potential. He is one of the few players in the league who has the potential one day to be considered the best in the game (not of all time probably, but best among his active peers one day maybe). He is far from that now, and will never get there if he doesn't get to the playoffs and wins. ADs potential is the Pelican's potential, and that opportunity is wasted if the Pelicans don't find a way to put him in a position to grow into that potential now. Everything is there for AD and the Pelicans to eventually succeed, they don't need to contemplate other possible scenarios anymore, they have the map and most of the pieces to do it. If they don't do it now, the chances of doing it later will not be better, it will only be harder.

yaboytonez
yaboytonez

If we get Iggy because of Jrue that would save us a couple years.

CoReMeGa
CoReMeGa

@Dillion77 NICE!!! full version.. 1st draft pick, rookie of the year and ALL STAR TOO

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes moderator

@Roger.That. Roger, no trade, NONE, made after the deadline is official until at least July 10 dude to the moratorium. This gives the NBA time to do their accounting and set the cap, etc. per their procedures. 

Negotiations with players open prior to that. GM's can always talk to GM's about players, but other than that, they really can't discuss a player on another team, as that is tampering. 

This is zero surprise if you are up on the rules. It's our job to make sure you are up on the rules.

Cool?

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

@Roger.That. I'm not sure of the exact rules, but the trade has to be reviewed by the league and cannot be official until the moratorium is over. Jrue also went to China the day after he was traded

Dillion77
Dillion77

@Roger.That. I believe he's saying he's borderline Elite at getting to the basket, it's just getting contact and looking for a foul when he drives is the main concern here 

soulbreaker
soulbreaker

@palochak @Roger.That. just saying, Philly´s bigs(minus Bynum) actually were good O player, but holy mother of god how in the hell you can play with the worst offensive sg in the league(Turner) and ZERO help in the wings or back up pg? look players with some min played this season, only Jrue Turner  and Thaddeus Young played more than 500 min, and with a coach like Collins that´s a recipefor a disaster! I read somewhere an interesting comp of Jrue, and is Harden, same 3s%, very near in fg% around the rim, same number of to, the real difference is Harden take much better shots, but if Jrue can fix that(and that is easily fixable, he isn´t Ellis) he´s much better defender than Harden

yaboytonez
yaboytonez

Had to do my research. I think my issue was what we gave me up. I liked next years draft.

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  1. […] help rotations which should leave Davis wide open for a lob. As Tom Sunnergren said, they will “wreak your garden variety pick-and-roll havoc.” Defenses will be forced to choose between Davis, Holiday or Anderson on the […]