While the New Orleans Pelicans have struggled through the first half of the season, Jrue Holiday is enjoying a career year. Holiday is averaging a career-high 20.8 PPG, second most on the team, and leads the Pelicans with 8.2 assists. Holiday has had to be the Pelicans primary ball-handler for most of the season due to injuries to backup point guard Elfrid Payton. In this time, Holiday has shown why he should be considered a top tier guard in the NBA.
Holiday has only built upon his elite performance in the playoffs last season. Holiday was a key contributor for the Pelicans and their playoff push, earning the 6th seed in the playoffs. It seemed only fitting that Holiday would be the one to lead the Pelicans to a sweep over the Trail Blazers scoring 41 points on an astounding 65 FG%. Over the entire series, he averaged 27.8 points per game. Despite these gaudy scoring numbers, Holiday truly stole the spotlight on the defensive side of the ball. Holiday held All-Star Damian Lillard to 18.5 points per game, 8.4 points below his regular season average, on just 35% shooting from the field. Holiday took control on both sides of the ball and lead his team to a series win and a matchup against the Golden State Warriors in the second round.
Holiday’s defensive aptitude is what truly separates him from the rest NBA’s other guards. First of all, the Pelicans’ defense gives up 10.8 more points per 100 possessions when Holiday is off the floor. This astronomical discrepancy exemplifies Holiday’s value on the defensive side of the ball. Individually, Holiday has the 4th most steals among point guards this season with 77. He is also tied for the most blocks in the league among point guards with 36 rejections. Holiday was rewarded with All-Defensive First Team honors for his defensive prowess last season.
Holiday has demonstrated that he is capable of guarding anybody from Damian Lillard to Kevin Durant. However, the national media and the NBA community still doesn’t give him the respect he deserves. He is an unsung hero who has had to play for very long stretches to keep the Pelicans in games. Holiday is playing approximately 37 minutes per game, the 4th most in the league. In short, Holiday has been one of the sole key contributors to a Pelicans team that is fighting for their spot in the playoffs. It’s time to recognize Jrue Holiday as one of the best guards in the NBA.