The New Orleans Pelicans made a surprising move during the 2013 NBA Draft by acquiring point guard Jrue Holiday. The Philadelphia Sixers were able to get the sixth overall pick, former Kentucky Wildcats big man, Nerlens Noel. Holiday emerged as one of the brightest young lead guards in the league. During the 2012-13 season, Holiday posted averages of 17.7 points and eight assists per game en route to his first selection to the NBA All-Star game.
Coming off of such a stellar season, expectations were high for Holiday meshing with a plethora of solid young pieces in New Orleans, such as Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Davis. Holiday adds the ability of playmaking, along with a combination of size and quickness that New Orleans lacked before his arrival. The roster seemed like it could shape up into being something special, in terms of a group of young guys maturing into contenders.
The year began in nightmarish fashion, as the Pelicans would suffer a huge blow to their team. Holiday’s season ended with a leg injury which required surgery in January. The stress fracture in Holiday’s right fibia ended his year in 34 games, where the Pelicans stood at 15-19. His numbers during the stretch were solid, posting 14.3 points and 7.9 assists per game on 44 percent shooting. Despite being below .500 during his time in the starting lineup, Holiday’s presence was the beginning of cohesion and familiarity that this young Pelicans team needed. The team missed his ability to push tempo, and operate in pick and roll. Alongisde Davis, Holiday showed some promise before going down:
Holiday is expected to make a full recovery, and continue to flourish. However, injuries can always be a tricky thing, and the Pelicans front office will have to keep a keen eye on Holiday’s progress. A player like him predicates so much of his game on the use of athleticism and this setback could affect it. Most importantly, the Pelicans need Holiday to lead the team in a league that is in the Golden Age of point guards, with guys such as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Stephon Curry.
Jrue Holiday will be touted to put up similar stats next year, and possibly create a devastating combo with fellow All-Star, Anthony Davis. This is definitely good news to fans, who have not had this kind of duo since the days of Chris Paul and David West. Tyreke Evans was also brought in last season, and his co-existence with Holiday is another dynamic that must improve. Both players are ball-dominant, and will have to find ways to work off the ball at times. With health in order, Holiday will be expected to lead the Pelicans into the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference, as he did during his Sixers tenure in 2011 and 2012.