If it's at all possible to have a breakout season at the age of 28, then that's exactly what Jrue Holiday did. The acquisition of Rajon Rondo last offseason meant Holiday was shuffled up to the shooting guard spot, which, in turn, meant the ball would be out of his hands a bit more.This resulted in Holiday dropping in some drafts given the level of uncertainty. Those owners lucky enough to secure his services had their selection more than justified, as Holiday turned in an extremely productive Fantasy season. He finished as a top-30 player in a number of formats, joining Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins to form one of the better three-headed Fantasy monsters in the NBA. Holiday put up averages of 19.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game on almost 50 percent shooting from the field. He also managed to play in 81 of the 82 regular season games, putting to rest any lingering concerns about his leg issues from two seasons prior. Fast forward a few months and Rondo is now out of equation and has been replaced by Elfrid Payton. The addition of Payton, somewhat of a similar player to Rondo, shouldn't have a massive impact on Holiday's role or playing time, and owners are highly unlikely to get him at any sort of discount this time around, especially after Holiday raised his game to an even higher level during the Pelicans' playoff run, which included a surprising first-round sweep of the three-seed Trail Blazers.
After finding out in late June that his wife, Lauren, had a brain tumor and would need surgery, Holiday took an indefinite leave of absence in order to be by her side throughout the process. However, after the surgery was deemed successful, Holiday eventually returned to the court following a 12-game absence and ended up playing the rest of the 2016-17 campaign injury free for the first time in his four-year career with the Pelicans. Finally putting together a healthy season, Holiday was able to post solid numbers in 67 games, averaging 15.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 three-pointers across 32.7 minutes. His overall scoring dropped, which was likely due to the addition of superstar center DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline. However, that move also benefited Holiday, as Davis provided yet another elite scorer that helped boost Holiday's assist average from 6.0 a season prior to 7.3. The Pelicans opted to sign Rajon Rondo this offseason, which likely comes with a fairly significant change for Holiday moving forward. He's fully expected to see more time off the ball at shooting guard, all the while allowing Rondo to take on more ball-handling responsibilities. That likely means Holiday's assists are set to decline, as Rondo is going to take away some touches and run the offense at times. Still, Holiday did re-sign to a max five-year, $131 million contract during free agency, so he's surely going to be used as a playmaker as much as possible and could get more open jump shots on the wing. That said, he's transitioning to a role where he potentially won't have the ball in his hands as much and still has Davis and Cousins to dominate the scoring, which could mean his overall Fantasy production takes a hit during his ninth NBA season.
After he was limited to 74 games over his first two seasons with the Pelicans, largely due to recurring issues with his lower right leg, Holiday was placed on a hard workload restriction to open 2015-16. The 26-year-old was forced to sit out one game of back-to-back sets and faced various minute limits until January, when his production unsurprisingly began to take off. Over his last three full months of the season, Holiday averaged 19.5 points (on 43.7% shooting), 7.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 three-pointers in 31.2 minutes per game before he was shut down in early April with a fractured orbital wall in his right eye. That fluky injury aside, Holiday generally enjoyed a healthy campaign and was poised to enter training camp as an attractive fantasy target at the point guard spot before personal tragedy struck. Holiday found out in late June that his wife, Lauren, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In order to care for Lauren while she goes through the pregnancy and then brain surgery, Holiday announced in September that he would take an indefinite leave from the Pelicans. Lauren is due to give birth in mid-October and will then have the surgery performed approximately six weeks later, assuming the pregnancy goes as planned. With that timeframe in mind, it seems quite likely that Holiday will be sidelined for much of the first half of the season, leaving Tim Frazier, Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore to handle most of the point guard duties. Once he returns to action, Holiday is expected to slide back into the starting lineup and assume a prominent role in the Pelicans’ attack. As such, it’s probably best to avoid drafting him in most shallow formats and instead waiting to pick him up off waivers shortly before his return date approaches. In deeper formats with large benches, meanwhile, Holiday makes sense as a late-round dart who could be stashed or used as trade currency once he’s nearing a return.
Holiday played only half a season again this past year due to more leg injuries. The former Sixer managed to play in just 40 games after playing 37 games in his first season in New Orleans. In 33 minutes per game, Holiday averaged 14.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.6 steals while canning 51 triples on 38 percent shooting from distance. Although the drop in assists is frightening, only nine players bested his per-game number last season. Holiday also managed to limit his turnovers considerably last season, coughing it up only 2.3 times per game as opposed to 3.1 and 3.7 times in his previous two seasons. With Alvin Gentry now running the show in New Orleans, fans can expect an offense that more closely resembles the one run by the Warriors last season, which means Holiday—a career 38 percent three-point shooter—should expect to see plenty of attempts from beyond the arc. His shooting should be able to make up for whatever ball-handling duties he cedes to Tyreke Evans after Evans filled in admirably for Holiday following his injury. If finally healthy, Holiday can be a major piece of the offensive machine running in New Orleans in his seventh season in the league.
Holiday comes into the 2014-15 season primed to bounce back after a stress fracture in his right leg limited him to just 34 games in his first year with the Pelicans. In his injury-shortened fifth season, Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 1.6 steals in 34 minutes per game. Holiday's outside shooting was of particular note, as he matched a career-high with 39 percent shooting from beyond the arc. It's hard to accurately judge Holiday's season considering his injury woes and the many other injuries suffered by the Pelicans throughout the 2013-14 season, but it's worth noting that he was seemingly coming into his own before the fractured leg spoiled his season. In his last full month of basketball, Holiday averaged 16.3 points and 9.0 assists per game. This year looks promising for the UCLA product. Playing next to Anthony Davis should do wonders for Holiday's assist numbers, and a healthy Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans should force defenses to stay honest and not converge on Holiday. It's easy to forget that just one season ago Holiday was a 22-year-old All-Star with the Philadelphia 76ers, primed to take the next step with his new club. Health willing, this could be a big season for Holiday.
Holiday broke out in 2012-13, posting career highs all over the stat sheet and reaching the All-Star Game for the first time. But the Sixers – in the midst of one of the most obvious tank-jobs in NBA history – opted to ship the 23-year-old to New Orleans for the draft rights to Nerlens Noel. Holiday's role might be very different with the Pelicans. In Philly, he was the unquestioned floor leader and initiator of the offense, and he struggled with that role at times. His 3.7 turnovers per game average was second only to James Harden's last season. But the Pelicans' roster is much deeper and more talented than the 2012-13 Sixers, and features several guards – including Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Austin Rivers – that might not be pure point guards, but who can take some of that responsibility off Holiday's shoulders. Coach Monty Williams has suggested that Holiday will play off the ball at times, something he did in Philly when Andre Iguodala was serving as "point forward."
Holiday seemed to be well on his way toward joining the ranks of the truly elite point guards, but he hit a bit of a plateau last season. His overall stats took a minor across-the-board hit last season despite good percentages, and he still hasn't matured into the elite ball-hawk many expected he'd become out of UCLA. Consistency is one of his biggest problems. Holiday can be very streaky. The Sixers offense will have a very different look this season. Last year, they were all about sharing the ball and had a glut of ball handlers on the roster. Lou Williams led the team in scoring with an average under 15 points per game. But the addition of Andrew Bynum and several space-the-floor wing shooters would seem to indicate a move toward a more inside-out style focused on Bynum. It will be interesting to see how well Holiday adapts to that, and how well he plays with Evan Turner, a pretty good passer who will get more run now that Andre Iguodala is a Denver Nugget.
Holiday established himself as the Sixers’ franchise player in his second season, starting all 82 games and establishing new career-best marks in nearly every column on the stat sheet. He finished the year particularly well, averaging 14.7 points and 8.3 dimes in April – a stretch that includes three double-doubles in the final six games of the regular season. And did we mention – he wasn’t old enough to drink until June? This season, he could take his place among the next generation of top point guards, particularly if Andre Iguodala is dealt as anticipated. With elite quickness and the wingspan of a hang glider, he averaged 1.45 steals per game last season – good for 16th in the league. With another year’s experience, he should moon-walk into the top 10. His three-point shot has room for improvement as well. He hit 39 percent from three as a rookie, but converted 36.5 percent – on about three times as many attempts – last season. Our only area of concern: the Sixers are reportedly interested in acquiring Monta Ellis when NBA business resumes, and sharing the backcourt with a high-usage player could cut into Holiday’s attempts.
As the Sixers' representative at this spring's draft lottery, Holiday was visibly relieved when his team slipped to second in the draft. His reaction was understandable; picking second meant he'd get Evan Turner as a teammate, and wouldn't have to compete with John Wall for the starting point guard spot. Holiday locked up the gig with a strong finish to the 2009-10 season, holding down the fort after the ill-considered Allen Iverson experiment ended and posting averages of 10.7 points and 7.4 assists in April. He should be able to improve last year's 1.1 steals per game average – he came into the league with the reputation of being an outstanding defender, and though he stands 6-3, he has a 6-7 wingspan that should allow him to disrupt passes with ease.
Holiday played both guard positions at UCLA, and is likely to do the same for Philadelphia, at least initially. His biggest strength at this stage of his career is his defense – he’s 6-4, but has a wingspan of 6-7, which should make life very difficult for opposing guards this season. He has a good handle and can get into the paint, but struggled mightily with his shot at UCLA. Look for Holiday to get the bulk of his minutes off the bench initially, backing Lou Williams at the point and Willie Green at the two.