“People ask me if I would like to make the All-Star team. I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t? I guess I really don’t think about it. Going into games, it’s not like I’m thinking about scoring or doing other things for me individually. I really just try to go out and win every game, and if that means me scoring two points and Nick [Young] scoring 30 or Dorell [Wright] scoring 15, as long as we get the win I’m happy.’
That’s quite the humble answer for a 22 year-old man entering just his fourth season in the NBA.
It’s also the politically correct one.
Of course Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday would love to be named as a reserve for the 2013 Eastern Conference NBA All-Star team this year. It’s painfully obvious that he won’t be voted in as a starter by the fans, but his play this season certainly warrants the strongest of considerations for a selection by the coaches.
Considering the circumstances surrounding other guards in the East, the opportunity is right there for Jrue to secure one of those final guard spots. Derrick Rose and John Wall haven’t been on the court, Kyrie Irving has missed games, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson continue to struggle with their shots in Brooklyn and the Brandon Jennings/Monta Ellis combo in Milwaukee hasn’t been setting the basketball world on fire either.
Through 29 games, Holiday is averaging 18.8 points, 9.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds a night. He ranks 14th in the NBA in points and 4th in assists. His turnover numbers leave a little to be desired (3.8), but four of the top five assist leaders in the NBA (Holiday, Rajon Rondo, Grievis Vasquez, Russell Westbrook) turn the ball over more than 3.4 times a game.
When you compare Jrue’s numbers to other guards in the East, he would sit third in scoring (behind Dwayne Wade and Ellis) and second in assists (behind Rondo).
His shooting numbers (45.1 % from the field, 35% from behind the arc) are also very acceptable.
His in-game stats from 2011-12 to this season have seen quite the dramatic leap. Holiday’s scoring has risen 5.5 points, his rebounding 0.9 and his assist totals literally double (4.5 to 9.0) in 2012-13. You would have to throw his name in the hat for the NBA Most Improved Player award if he can keep up this kind of production.
A team’s success is taken into account when selecting those final roster spots for the all-star team as well. The 76ers currently sit third in the Atlantic division with a record of 15-18, which is good enough for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. The middle pack of teams (Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics) are all jumbled together, so I doubt any coach will hold the 76ers early season struggles against Jrue at this point.
The fans unfortunately haven’t taken notice of Holidays great start to the year. After the second return of all-star votes at the end of December, Jrue ranked eighth amongst Eastern Conference guards (56,683), with questionable names like Heat guard Ray Allen (195,142) placing higher in the fan vote. It’s just one big popularity contest, so with Miami being a much larger market for basketball with their recent NBA championship, I suppose it’s reasonable that a player like Allen would have so many votes, while a player like Holiday (in a much smaller market in comparison and with little name recognition) would struggle to win people over.
Perhaps a turning point in the season for Holiday was this past Tuesday when the 76ers knocked off the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center with a 103-99 road victory. Jrue finished the night with 26 points on 10 for 19 shooting. He also dished out 10 assists. Putting on strong performances in big games can only do good things for his name and reputation around the league. Lakers guard Steve Nash took notice of Holiday’s play after the game and gave him very high praise.
“I think he gives them obviously a very talented players but he also makes guys around him better. He makes it more difficult for you to guard [Evan] Turner, [Jason] Richardson and the other guys on the perimeter.”
“He’s a terrific player. He’s an All-Star this year.”
A player trying to break on through to his first all-star team is never the easiest of tasks, especially when the team he plays for isn’t making major headlines on a nightly basis. It’s a shame that more fans haven’t taken notice of Jrue Holiday and his terrific start, but that’s going to change sooner rather than later. The crop of guards around the league are so talented and so deep, but Jrue’s name belongs right alongside them.
I don’t see any reason why Holiday shouldn’t qualify for this years all-star game in Houston. His numbers alone warrant a spot.
It’s going to happen.
Jrue deserves it.