Jrue Holiday’s arrival for the New Orleans Pelicans has come just in time for the holidays. After starting the season 2-12 without him, Holiday’s led the Pelicans to win four of their last five and has them just two and a half games out of a playoff spot since he returned. His absence was certainly justified and what any good family man should do. That said, Coach Alvin Gentry and Anthony Davis could not be happier to have him back in the lineup on a nightly basis. At the risk of putting too much pressure on Jrue Holiday but he might be the best gift of the Pelicans’ could have asked for this holiday season.
The picture was very bleak after the first 12 games for the Pelicans, they have been ravished by injuries to Tyreke Evans, Dante Cunningham, and Quincy Pondexter combined with Holiday’s absence New Orleans really struggled. Davis has been a beast but if there is one thing that holds true in the NBA, you have to have a decent supporting cast to have moderate success in the NBA. The team overall had an offensive -7.3 in plus/minus, shooting just 29.1% from three, 42.9% from the field, and averaged 22.3 assists a game in the first 12 games.
Holiday’s return has re-energized the team, they are shooting 42.4% from three, 50.4% from the field, averaging 26.8 assists a night and the most amazing stat of them all, they are a plus 8.2 in offensive plus/minus in their last five games. Yes, you read that correctly, that is a 15.5 swing in offensive plus/minus.
|First 12 Games||Last 5 games|
Holiday himself is averaging 16.2 points, 6.6 assists and shooting a career high 52.2% on two point field goals. He’s still working the rust off his three point shot shooting 33.3% but is a career 36.7% shooter.
His value on the court is more than just the numbers but it is the fact that teams have to account for him and can’t collapse on Davis like they were doing during his absence. When Holiday drove against Minnesota he drew defenders away from Davis, and then dropped off a present for the David and-1.
It’s not just Davis who Holiday has helped. He has passed out gifts to all his teammates time and again in this run. As he drove baseline, three wolves defenders met him at the block. The drive also drew a defender to Davis on the weakside block that left Langston Galloway wide-open. Holiday air-mailed another gift and Galloway buried the shot.
Teams are forced to collapse on Holiday because if they don’t he’s fully capable of finishing around the rim like in the play below. According to basketball-reference.com he is shooting 64.3% around the rim. He came off the pick-and-roll that was set at the free throw line and attacked the big for two points.
It is true that it has only been five games in his return but in those games he got took the Pelicans from two wins to six and back in the playoff conversation. It will take a few more streaks like this five game stretch but Holiday is the best gift the Pelicans could have wished for this holiday season.
- King of the East – The Cleveland Cavaliers sit atop of the East at 12-2 and it is clear no team in the East has the tools to take them down this year.
- Traveling Spurs – The Spurs are the only team to remain undefeated on the road this year at 10-0. Their next tough road test will be against Chicago on Dec 8th.
- Streaking Warriors – After a surprising loss to the Lakers, the Warriors have rattled off 11 straight wins but will be tested with an ankle injury to Draymond Green.
- Struggling Wolves – Expectations are always tough for young teams to meet. Many set the bar very high for them and it’s been a slow start. They have a defensive rating of 108.1 which is low for a Tom Thibodeau team.
- Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
- All stats come from NBA.com/stats and Basketball-Reference.com