Bringing in Justin Holiday was a signing that flew under the radar for the Indiana Pacers, but he has been exactly what they hoped he would be and more
The 2019-20 Indiana Pacers team looks much different than their team in 2018-19. The Pacers saw seven players that played significant minutes depart last offseason, meaning this season’s team would feature several new faces. And that it does.
Indiana brought in some high profile players through trades and in free agency. Guys like Jeremy Lamb, TJ Warren, and potential All-Star Malcolm Brogdon are such players. But one player that is making a tremendous impact for Indiana this season is a guy who did not necessarily make headlines when the Pacers brought him in; Justin Holiday.
Almost three weeks into free agency, Justin Holiday had yet to sign with a team for the 2019-2020 NBA season. It was reported that several teams had shown interest in bringing Holiday in, he just wanted to make sure whoever he decided to sign with was the right fit. Then, on July 19, it was reported that Justin Holiday had signed a one-year, $4.8 million deal with the Pacers, and was going to join his brother Aaron Holiday in Indiana.
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From the jump it seemed like this was going to be a great fit for both Justin and the Pacers. The Pacers got a veteran player with the potential to be a really good “3-and-D” guy with their bench unit, and Holiday was joining a team that would likely be contending in the East, and playing alongside his brother. It seemed like a no brainer.
And a little over a fourth of the way through the NBA season, it has been just that. Holiday has been fantastic for Indiana this season. He is averaging 7.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and more than a steal per game. And he has been doing all of this efficiently, shooting 41.4 percent from the field, a career-best 38.2 percent from 3, and 82.6 percent from the free-throw line.
Justin Holiday’s numbers are just about what the Pacers could have expected, if not a little better. But what Holiday has brought to this Pacers team is more than just what is shown on the stat sheet. As someone who is in his 7th year in the league and as someone who has been a part of championship teams, he knows what it takes to win and can be a good locker room presence on an otherwise young Pacers team.
But it is even more than just leadership and the stats that he puts up night-to-night that has made Justin Holiday an important piece for Indiana this season. He has been a crucial part of closing games lately thanks in large part to his defensive versatility. Justin is 6-foot-6 tall and has a 7-foot wingspan, allowing him to defend multiple positions effectively and get into passing lanes. Opponents shoot just 34.6 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from 3 when guarded by Justin Holiday. These numbers are comparable to Kawhi Leonard‘s, maybe you’ve heard of him?
And on the other end of the floor in crunch time? Yep, Holiday has been exceptional there as well. His 3-point shooting has been extremely reliable of late, shooting 49.1 percent from downtown over his last 14 games. And some of these shots have been big-time shots when it mattered most. Against Boston, it was Holiday who hit the clutch 3 that put the Celtics away. And he looked as cool as the other side of the pillow doing it, like there was nothing to it.
On top of all of this, Justin seems to be enjoying himself. He is finally a part of a winning team again for the first time since his 2014-15 season in Golden State, a season in which they won the championship.
And not only are the Pacers a winning organization, but he is getting to enjoy a winning season playing with his brother, something that rarely happens in all of sports, let alone the NBA. For Justin, getting to play with Aaron “puts life in perspective” and allows for more family time, both at Bankers Life Fieldhouse watching the two brothers play and at home on off days.
Though not necessarily the flashiest signing of all time, bringing Justin Holiday has already paid huge dividends for the Pacers. And as the team continues to play with each other it would seem that he could contribute even more. For a team as young as the Pacers, it is important to have a player or two with experience, especially come playoff time. So far this season, the experience is just one of the many benefits Justin Holiday provides.