Jrue Holiday will be Crucial for the New Orleans Pelicans

LOS ANGELES, USA - MARCH 5: Jrue Holiday (11) of New Orleans Pelicans in action during the NBA basketball match between Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans on March 5, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

When you are playing alongside such a dominant force like Anthony Davis, it can be hard to be in the spotlight. Jrue Holiday is an exceptional two way guard, and with Davis out of town, it’s Holiday’s chance to shine for the New Orleans Pelicans. Even alongside Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball, Holiday could be the one to lead the squad. Some have even gone as far as calling Holiday the best two-way guard in the league. There’s a major void to fill for the Pelicans, and Holiday could be the one to step up this season.

Why Jrue Holiday will be Crucial for the New Orleans Pelicans This Season

Offense

Only six players have averaged 20+ points and 6 assists in the last two seasons. Players such as James Harden, Damian Lillard and LeBron James are on that list, and so is Holiday. This makes it clear that he is extremely efficient on offense. Holiday gets plenty of attention from defenders. He is no longer overlooked, as most defenders are aware of the damage he can do. Despite this, he has a deadly first step that be difficult for the opposition to prepare for.

He is also a solid isolation option for the New Orleans Pelicans. He can drive to the rim with incredible speed. His ability to drive almost always draws in defenders. This allows him to distribute the ball to his teammates for open shots, thus his impressive 7.7 assists per game last season. With Davis removed from the equation, you’d be mistaken to think he lacks options now. Williamson, Ball and Brandon Ingram are all effective shooters. We also need to take a look at his versatility when it comes to driving to the rim.

Holiday can use both hands, and is strong on both feet. There have been many occasions where Holiday has used his ability to slow his game down, and speed it back up to find different spots on the floor. His unpredictability can frustrate defenders and lead them to become overly aggressive. Undeniably, Davis was a strong option on the pick and roll, but Pelicans success with the play came down to the IQ of Holiday on most occasions.

Despite pressure, he takes time to scan the floor and find his open man. Alvin Gentry spoke about how much he would like Holiday to pair up with players such as Ingram or Ball before the trade was completed, and most can agree that the team are looking solid.

Defense

His game doesn’t stop on one side of the ball, though. He is a solid defender. He knows how to decrease his opponents’ field goal percentages, even when facing the best shooters in the league. More specifically, he knows how to cause role players to make mistakes in pick and roll situations. His athleticism allows him to pressure the ball on game long.

Even the best shooters know their in for a tough game when they come up against Holiday. Let’s look back at the 2018 playoffs, when The Pelicans swept the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard was pressured into unusual shot selections, and look particularly shaky on offense and even passed out of situations where he would usually shoot.  Lillard’s next option was to force Holiday to foul him, but he had a great way of a getting out of this by avoiding contact which lead to another bad shot. This is just one example of what Holiday can do to star players.

In the upcoming season, Holiday has some great players alongside him, and his composure in pick and roll situations will be key to winning a lot of games. In addition to this, his tight defense and ability to make players play out of character will keep field goal percentages low against the Pelicans. With his experience in the league,  he will be instrumental to the growth of Williamson also. Once the partnership develops, this could be a very deadly combonation indeed. The Pelicans have a very exciting season ahead of them.

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