The Jrue Holiday Decision

Published: March 30, 2017

Almost immediately after the New Orleans Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins there was talk of the Pelicans finally having their own “Big 3.”

Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Jrue Holiday.

And while Cousins and Davis have shown why they are All-Stars, Jrue Holiday hasn’t played as well as expected. And with a massive payday looming this offseason the Pelicans have a very hard decision to make.

Jrue Holiday isn’t a traditional point guard. He’s at his best as a scorer rather than a facilitator. He’s got good size and tremendous strength which allows him to get to the rim and score, as well as post up smaller guards. To be the second option on the team he was a good fit next to Anthony Davis.

But Davis and Cousins? That’s another story.

I wrote about how well Holiday has been playing in the lead up to the All-Star Game, but since Cousins’ arrival that production has dipped. Sure, his points per game might drop—that is to be expected when adding in another ball dominant big man. But his assists haven’t gone up, while his turnovers, at least in the first few games after the trade, rose significantly.

A lot of this is due to spacing on the court. Holiday has less room to drive to the hoop with Davis and Cousins down low. Add into the fact that those two big are demanding at least 3 defenders between them combined. In fact, since the trade Holiday is driving less than before, and when he does drive he is turning the ball over at twice the rate he was previously. He’s running into more bodies than he was previously. Not ideal.

Holiday isn’t particularly strong at making entry passes to Cousins into the low post, and when you combine it with the fact that his drives are less effective it’s fair to wonder if Holiday is the best fit for the Pelicans.

It’s not all bad, however. Holiday has increased his three-point attempts (which is sorely needed to space the court for Davis and Cousins) by 5% post All-Star Game. But if Holiday is becoming more of a spot up shooter/floor spacer in this post-Boogie world, should the Pelicans really offer him a max contract this offseason?

It’s a tough question that the Pelicans front office will have to answer soon.

Maybe it’s a matter of pairing him with the right backcourt guard. Put a more pure point guard or another combo guard in with him to alleviate some of the ball handling duties and allow Holiday to be Holiday. Hence Tim Frazier now starting alongside the future free agent.

Take a look at Holiday’s stats per 100 possessions with Frazier on/off court since the All-Star Game.

There are two big improvements. Holiday’s turnovers drop dramatically with Frazier paired with him, and his three-point shooting jumps. Both of these are to be expected.

But his points per 100 possessions are largely the same, as are his assists. It hasn’t looked like putting Holiday in the backcourt with another point guard has been the key to unlocking him. Especially since his shooting percentage overall is down with Frazier.

Coach Nick with BBallbreakdown was on Locked on Pelicans last week and talked about Holiday’s All-Star year in Philly. He mentioned that when he broke it down that Holiday feasted on the worst defensive teams in the league, but struggled against the top. I’m going to be writing about Holiday more as the Pelicans get closer to free agency, but so far that what Coach Nick said is also holding true this season.

Holiday is still a tremendously talented player, but right now it’s fair to question if he’s a 24 million dollar part of the Pelicans’ big three.

Agree or disagree? Let us know on twitter @nolajake and @bourbonstshots

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