Can Jrue Holiday be a consistent option in the Pelicans’ offense?

In 13 games so far, Jrue Holiday has been a mixed bag for the New Orleans Pelicans. Consistency and working to his strengths are qualities he should be striving for playing behind Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

When Rajon Rondo went down to injury early in the preseason, it was the perfect opportunity for Jrue Holiday to reclaim his point guard duties. New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry wanted to have two point guards in his starting offense, and have Jrue Holiday playing off the ball as a spot-up shooter.

It seemed quite odd that Jrue Holiday would be positioned as an undersized starting shooting guard in the loaded battlefield of the Western Conference. But all that talk of Holiday playing alongside Rondo was put in the back burner once the regular season started.

You would think that Jrue Holiday running the Pelicans’ offense with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins manning the frontcourt would make them a formidable team, but so far it hasn’t. The New Orleans Pelicans after 13 games are sporting a 7-6 winning record in the Western Conference.

It would put them right now as a seventh seed if the playoffs started today. The Pelicans are staying afloat at the moment because of the superb play of both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

Numbers so far this season

So where does Jrue Holiday fit in all this you say? At the moment, he’s averaging 14.2 points, 6.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game. A few numbers do stick out for Holiday so far, and one is how well he’s rebounding the ball. He never hit anywhere close to 4.0 rebounds per game since his playing days with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Also, the amount of minutes he’s playing (37.2 per game) hasn’t been duplicated since his last season for the 76ers in 2012-13. That’s where the positives end for the eight-year veteran point guard though.

At the moment, Jrue Holiday is hitting the worst 3-point mark of his career at 22 percent. Compare that to last year’s 35.6 percent and you can see why this is extremely troubling to see for a quality starting point guard.

If you have watched a lot of Pelicans games this season, you can see a trend where a lot of the perimeter players usually just settle for jumpers or 3-point shots. You can clearly say the same for both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. But for Holiday, he’s doing a disservice to his team.

Consistency

He shouldn’t be playing like an undersized shooting guard, he has the keys to the offense. Look at his performance against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night (34 points, 11 assists and five rebounds). He was 14-of-20 from the field (70 percent!) and the majority of those shots were taken near the key and the paint, in the heart of the Raptors’ defense.

This was the best offensive outburst for Jrue Holiday since March of 2016. The Pelicans did lose to the Raptors thanks to the heroics of DeMar DeRozan, but that game was a blueprint of how Jrue Holiday can be used in the offense.

Jrue Holiday’s performance in his last game against the Los Angles Clippers was inexcusable, even if his team won the game. He was 1-of-6 (16.7 percent) from the field but he did manage to get to the free throw line (going 4-for-4) and dish out a team-high eight assists. Holiday must be aggressive moving forward and not settle for jump shots.

Especially when Rajon Rondo comes back to the fold, he can’t just function as an off-ball guard who can stretch the floor for his team. There are other guys like Jameer Nelson, Ian Clark, Darius Miller and E’Twaun Moore who are more than capable to play as off-ball shooters.

Jrue Holiday is a fantastic player who can be a dual threat for opposing defenses. The issue is right now is that his shots aren’t falling and he isn’t attacking the basket consistently. He’ll need to get back to his strengths and be consistent moving forward, especially once Rajon Rondo gets healthy and is cleared to play with the starting lineup.