Sick of arguing with your friends about who is the best player in the NBA? Leading into the ’13-14 NBA Season, Ball So Hard will be putting an end to the debate. Here is the decisive list of the 50 best NBA players.
Note: predictions are for the up coming season and rank players on how they will perform in the ’13-14 season.
No. 42, Jrue Holiday
Despite critics panning the potential of the 2013 NBA Draft class, the draft itself was one of the most unpredictable and exciting in recent years thanks to numerous surprise selections and blockbuster trades.
One of the biggest stories of the night came when Nerlens Noel dropped all the way to New Orleans at sixth and – before the “Block Party” could even begin – was swiftly traded the Philadelphia.
Seeing Noel, who was widely considered a lock to be picked first overall, slide down the draft board and then be jettisoned as soon as he was selected was certainly a surprise. So much so that lost among the hysteria was Jrue Holiday.
Being draft night, all the focus on Noel, and then the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade, people overlooked the fact that Holiday – an All-Star in his own right – was changing teams.
Being overlooked is something that Holiday is used to. When he was drafted in 2009 – in a notably guard-heavy draft class – Jrue watched nine other guards have their names called by David Stern, as he fell to Philly at the 17th pick.
During his rookie season, the hesitation to select Holiday that NBA teams had shown on draft night appeared warranted as several players selected above him – Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Johnny Flynn – and even some picked after him – Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton – were all chosen ahead of him for NBA All-Rookie teams.
However, fast forward to 2013, and Holiday is coming off a break-out season that saw him average career highs across the board – 17.7 points, eight assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game.
Holiday also become only the third player from the ’09 draft class to be selected to the All-Star game, before every player who was selected ahead of him to the ’09 All-Rookie teams (except Harden who was also selected to the 2013 All-Star game).
After Andre Iguodala was traded to Denver, Holiday suddenly found himself be entrusted with more responsibility on the court, and he embraced the opportunity to lead a team.
Despite being surrounded by a mediocre supporting cast, Holiday was still respectably efficient from the floor, shooting 43.1% from the floor and 36.8% from three.
However, as with many young point guards who are handed so much responsibility so suddenly, there were some growing pains. Last season, Jrue ranked second in the league for total turnovers (292) and gave the ball away 3.7 times a game (third most in the league). However, after joining the Pelicans, Holiday will get plenty of ball handling help from Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans, and defences wont be able to crowd him as much as they could in Philadelphia.
Joining forces with Anthony Davis should also help Holiday’s game. Last season, Holiday spent 38% of all his offensive possessions as the pick-and-roll ball handler, resulting in 0.78 points per possession. Keep in mind that Philly’s biggest pick-and-roll threat was Spencer Hawes. Meanwhile, Davis spent 24.6% of his offense as a pick-and-roll roll man and generated 1.11 points per possession, scoring 55.7% of the time.
If the Pelicans offense can incorporate a Holiday-Davis pick-and-roll on most plays it should generate points.
Holiday managed to make his first All-Star game playing with one of the least talented teams he’d ever played on. While it’s hard to predict what joining a more exciting team like the Pelicans will do to his chances to make his second All-Star game, it will certainly generate more wins.
People have been overlooking New Orleans since they changed their name to the Pelicans, focusing more on the gimmicky name and less on the big offseason changes they have made. Being overlooked is nothing new to Jrue Holiday, but judging by the success he has managed to achieve over those who were often praised before him, that is just fine by him.