The 2016-17 season started in disappointing fashion for the New Orleans Pelicans, with the team dropping the first eight games of the season. This was despite the heroics of big man Anthony Davis, who put up several big games, in what turned out to be losing efforts. However, an eight game losing streak wasn’t the first bit of bad news in New Orleans. Point guard Jrue Holiday announced in early September that he would be taking a necessary break from basketball. Holiday made his decision after doctors discovered a tumor on the right side of Lauren Holiday’s brain. Lauren, Jrue’s wife, has since had surgery and is expected to make a full recovery. This is news that has led to Holiday making a return to basketball.
Jrue Holiday Proving to be Invaluable in New Orleans
Holiday, 26, made his first appearance of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers. Making an instant impact on his return to the court, Holiday played 23 minutes and put up 21 points and 7 assists. Holiday’s return seemed necessary for New Orleans to have any chance of success. Previously, the Pelicans had been relying upon star big man Davis. Davis has been playing very well; but with a severe lack of support, Davis alone hasn’t been enough to lead the Pelicans to a respectable record.
Following on from his strong season debut, Holiday would see even more court time. He played 30 minutes against the Charlotte Hornets and put up yet another good performance, finishing with 22 points and 9 assists. The Pelicans would land their first back-to-back victory of the season. It has become obvious how invaluable Holiday is in New Orleans, and it appears his comeback from near family tragedy has given everyone involved an added boost.
Head coach Alvin Gentry had this to say on Holiday’s return, “He’s a big part of what we do. Everyone on the team likes and respects him. It’s great to have him back.”
Gentry is glad to have a player like Holiday back with the team, and you can understand why as the Pelicans won their third straight game in a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. This was by far the Pelicans best team performance of the season, with four players scoring at least 15 points in the game. Tim Frazier tallied an impressive 14 assists as starting point guard. Holiday was a part of an impressive bench unit, a unit which piled on 48 points in the impressive 112-94 victory. Holiday continued his run of good form, putting up 15 points and 4 assists.
Before Holiday’s return to the team, the Pelicans stood with a record of 2-10. However, since Holiday’s return, New Orleans has produced a three-game win streak and has moved on to 5-10, a much more respectable record. Having Holiday back is great; the Pelicans looked settled again. Once the likes of Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter return, the Pelicans all of a sudden look dangerous again. Remember, New Orleans isn’t that far removed from being a playoff team. Yes they have lost talent, but this Pelican team is young and hungry. If the management can find a way to build around Davis, the Pelicans have the pieces to once again be competitive in the Western Conference.
February 25, 2016: New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) drives to the basket during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA. (Photograph by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)