Friday, September 27th, 2013 at 3:00 pm  |  39 responses

Top 50: Jrue Holiday, no. 42

Holiday and the Pelicans are ready to take a major step forward next season.

by Eldon Khorshidi / @eldonadam

When the Philadelphia 76ers tip off their season on October 30, Michael Carter-Williams—a lanky, 6-6 rookie whom the Sixers invested a lottery pick in and hope is their point guard of the future—will have exactly zero NBA minutes under his belt. He will be 22 years old.

When the New Orleans Pelicans tip off their season on October 30, Jrue Holiday—a 6-4 PG whom the Pelicans hope will be a vital piece of what, on paper, is a juggernaut backcourt—will be 23 years old, with four NBA seasons and an All-Star selection under his belt. He’ll be flirting with his NBA prime, and trying to solidify his standing within the League’s saturated crop of elite young point guards.

The previous two paragraphs are in no way meant to be a comparison between Carter-Williams and Holiday, and are not a shot at MCW or Sixers management. I get it—sacrificing Holiday in exchange for a core group of Nerlens Noel, Carter-Williams, a top-5 and a top-15 pick in next year’s Draft is, in many ways, worth it. General manager Sam Hinkie saw an opportunity to invest in low-cost (at least salary wise), high-upside rookies, and depending on how the players develop, he saw an opportunity to build something special in the not-so-distant future. Philly has a chance to build its program from the ground up, and they can do it without Holiday.

I get that. I also get that Carter-Williams and Noel had tremendous success as AAU teammates in high school, and they now have a chance to strengthen their chemistry and grow together. By the time the Sixers hope to be relevant again, so goes the logic, Holiday will be at a point in his career when he’ll command too much money and/or wouldn’t fit with the inexperienced and learning-on-the-fly Sixers. He’s already been there, done that.

I understand where the Sixers were coming from when they traded their team’s so-called point guard of the future, but I also get what Holiday brings to the table, and that must be fully acknowledged—a 6-4, 205-pound PG with an excellent dribble-drive game, the ability to fill up a box score, developing leadership skills and, if he can develop a consistent jumpshot, a chance to average 15, 10 and 6, and be a multiple-time All-Star. In other words, it’s not like Holiday is damaged goods; in fact, he has a legitimate chance to be a special player.

There’s a reason Holiday is making his first appearance on the SLAM Top 50 at this time. He’s entering the prime of his career, coming off a season in which he averaged 17.7 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds per game. Among point guards, Holiday was sixth in scoring, fourth in rebounds and fourth in assists, and was the only PG in the NBA to rank in the top-six in all three categories. Holiday assisted on 35.8 percent of his teammates’ field goals, ranking sixth in the League (minimum 70 games). Continuing on his incremental improvement, you could say Holiday “broke out” last season, with career-highs in points, assists and rebounds, and earned a trip to the All-Star game along to the way.

With a core group of Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are positioned to take a major step forward next season, with the potential to make real noise in the Playoffs. But in order to realize potential—in this case on an individual level—Holiday must turn weakness into strength, not make repeat mistakes, and continue to add dimensions to his game.

Holiday is a hard worker, by all accounts and a good teammate, and a solid competitor. In order to take the next step, though, in my opinion, he must improve two areas of his game: efficiency and shooting.

Firstly, ball security: Holiday averaged a career-high 3.7 turnovers last season. Elite players often have a high turnover rate due to the sheer amount of time the ball is in their hands, but still, that doesn’t absolve Holiday from needing to protect the ball—cutting down turnovers will pay dividends.

This clip, along with a woeful .82 points per possession (ranking in the 28th percentile among all players, per Synergy Sports), contributed to a 16.74 Player Efficiency Rating, which is slightly above the league average of 15 and ranked 94th in the League. That’s three spots better than Will Bynum, and not near the level Holiday should be at. He needs to get his PER up to a Kyrie (21.5)/Steph (21.34)/Wall (20.91) level.

To accomplish this, he must cut down on turnovers, but he needs to improve his shooting as well. Last year, Holiday’s shot selection was as follows:

Jumpshots – 60.3%
Shots around basket (non post-ups) – 26.4%
Runners – 11.1%
Post-ups – 2.2%

That’s a fairly balanced inside-out approach. Problem is, Holiday shot only 38 percent on his jumpshots, of which 60 percent of his shots came from. If he’s going to use over half of his attempts on jumpshots, he has to convert at a higher clip. Both on film and on paper, Holiday can break his man down off the dribble and get into the paint. But adding a jumpshot would put pressure on the defense, and not allow the opposition to play off him.

Holiday also posted a below-average 1.11 points per possession on baskets in the paint (aka driving the lane), ranking in the 48th percentile of all players. For an All-Star level PG whose game is predicated on dribble-drive penetration, that’s not efficient enough. That being said, I think his struggles finishing in the paint have more to do with the lack of respect he garners on his jumpshot rather than an inability to put the ball in the hole.

So, yeah, Holiday has work to do on his game. But for someone who is only 23-years-old, the talent—along with the 17/8/4—are apparent.

The former No. 2 recruit in his high school class, Holiday is a dynamic playmaker with a wide-ranging impact. And four years into his professional career, he is an All-Star. Jrue may not be on your list of top-8 point guards right now, but in a year from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is.

Where should Jrue Holiday rank in the SLAM Top 50?

Loading ... Loading ...
SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • spit hot fiyah

    first i thought: this might be too low, he was an all-star last year and hasn’t peaked yet.

    then i read the write up and thought: maybe he shouldn’t be in the top 50

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    other than him not being better than Mike Conley i totally agree with everything else.

  • i_ball

    He will have a better team on paper this season so the ranking seems OK. Maybe Conley should be higher but you can find arguments for both…

  • LakeShow

    I had him 3 spots higher, so can’t really complain.

    He and Conley are very comparable players right now. I had Conley all the way up at 30 though.

  • Dundler

    Like others, I rank Conley higher, but it’ll be good to see him om the Pelicans. Looks like they’re a team to watch

  • LakeShow

    It’s highly debatable.

    You act like Conley is going to definitely be better next season. It’s undetermined. Holiday could have a better season than Conley this next year.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    he could. but i don’t have a reason to bet on it.

  • tape15

    looking at the rankings this year… just been a weird top 50 so far. feel like kawhi and conley are way too low and the rest dont even belong. really david lee and al jefferson? smh. jrue’s definitely a top 50 player but I still think Conley should be higher for the way he runs a team

  • Nathan Shane Long

    Jrue Holiday all star player he is a top 10 elite point guard in the league

  • davidR

    you can name 50 players better than david lee?

  • LakeShow

    In no order…

    Point Guards better than JH:
    Chris Paul
    Deron Williams
    Derrick Rose
    Tony Parker
    Kyrie Irving
    Russel Westbrook
    Steph Curry
    John Wall
    Rajon Rondo
    Mike Conley
    Jru Holiday

    So he’s either the 10th or 11th.

    So yeah, technically, debateably, a top 10 point guard.

    The question is, is the 10th best player at a position considered elite?

    I think not. It varies by position obviously. The 10th best shooting guard is NOT elite. While the 10th best point guard may be… Problem is his turn overs and FG%. I put him a hair under the elite right now. Elite is on another level and he isn’t on another level than most point guards.

    What say you, troll?

  • Nathan Shane Long

    he is all star level talent so how in the hell can you justify your nerd troll ass putting Conley and Wall above him seriously holiday has been in the playoffs unlike Wall and unlike Conley and Wall Holiday is an F’N all star also don’t forget troll Holiday shoots scores and Assist better than the both of em and don’t reply saying that Conley is better than him only because he “steals” the ball better than him “steals” are nothing more than an niche skill that some point guard have and most don’t not to mention remember Conley after his first three seasons was considered a BUST in Memphis

  • tape15

    i guess you’re right, hes a top 50 player but if i really took the time i could make a case for it

  • LLC#12

    this guy is the WOAT of slam commenters but man, he makes me laugh!

  • Nathan Shane Long


  • LakeShow

    There have been plenty of fringe All-Stars to be All-Stars. He is a fringe All-Star. Don’t get it twisted you c*nt.

    Conley is much less TO prone, more in control of his game, and plays better defense. That doesn’t mean he’s certifiably better, but it’s debatable between those two you f*cking troll.

    You hate Wall, so obviously your opinion of him is biased. But he is slightly better than Jrue. Better play maker. Slighlty less TO prone and more efficient.

    Once again debatable, but at best that puts your boy at #9 you little b*tch.

    Is it the first three seasons of Conley’s career? No, so what do they matter?

    What say you nerd, c*nt, troll, b*tch?

  • Nathan Shane Long

    Jrue is not my boy really but your worthless hardcore NBA nerd ass refusing to Acknowledge that Holiday is better then those two is absurd too say the least and Holiday will flourish in New Orleans and way above Conley in the pecking order and what make you think i “hate” John Wall and you saying that Wall is better than Jrue is foolish and retarded as well you saying he a better playmaker really cunt his last full season 2011-2012 he led the NBA in turnovers so how is he less TO prone you idiot there are several other point guards i would put above Wall overhyped ass but anyway you can’t win this argument against me boy you gonna have to have your HOMO-PSEUDO BOYFRIEND NBK ONCE AGAIN INTERJECT INTO THIS DEBATE AND SAVE YOUR PATHETIC DUMB ASS AND COME TO YOUR RESCUE

  • danpowers

    defense doesnt seem to be a decisive aspect when talking about point guards for whatever reason.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    It should. I’m not saying Mike Conley will definitely be a better PG. It’s just the safer bet. He was certainly better last year. Jrue just was the 76ers only legitimate weapon, so he had a lot more freedom. His stats reflected that. Watching him on the other hand, showed where he was truly lacking.

  • danpowers

    well, holiday’s “conservative” stats look better than conley’s, but its not even close if we go into their advanced stats. its conley all the way in terms of generating wins for his team.

    ” Watching him on the other hand, showed where he was truly lacking.”

    yup. i sometimes wonder how a pro is able to commit turn overs like that. a pro who is running a team in the nba. to reach 80% ft shooting should also be on his agenda. not to speak of some of the… “decisions” he sometimes makes.

    on the other hand: one gotta love his upside. he is still 3 years younger than conley and also got nice size / physique.

    being on a team with a nice outlook might work miracles for him in terms of being more focused. if he could just cut down all these unnecessary turnovers….

    the only thing that could give conley the clear edge would be that the grizzlies will actually play at a higher pace. that could give him the little boost in stats that would really let him look like the all star caliber point guard he actually is.

    i just guess that some of randolph’s post ups and gasols playmaking will again dump his “point guard numbers” below his capability. and this top 50 ranking is also about production rather than capability. so… maybe that ranking could be legit.
    we will see

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  • Interdico Scriptor

    Wow; he’s getting to u mate, chillax

  • Max

    Wall would probably have made it over Jrue if the allstar game was at the end of the season.
    Wall was injured u know?

  • LakeShow

    No, look below, he literally responds more sanely when you talk down to him and call him names like he does to you. It’s like a weird ‘didn’t have a father around’ complex thing… it’s interesting.

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