The point guard position has often been compared to the quarterback in football. They are the player who has to run the team’s offense and has more responsibility than anyone on the court. Mid-way through last season the 76ers put the massive responsibility on the shoulders of a 19-year old. After the 2008-09 season, the Sixers decided to part ways with their former point guard Andre Miller who was one of the most underrated PG’s in the NBA. He was a key part of the team that almost shocked the Magic in the first round of the playoffs. Last season the team took a huge step backwards in the standings, most of the blame was placed on first year head coach Eddie Jordan, but I think Millers’ absence was an overlooked reason. With the 17th pick in the 2009 draft, the team selected Jrue Holiday as there point guard of the future. Since being drafted Holiday has steadily improved, his impressive play so far this season has him earned a spot at #18 on our rankings.
The 76ers took some criticism when they drafted the 19-year old out of UCLA. Holiday had only played one year at the collegiate level and wasn’t the team’s main point guard during his freshman year. A lot of fans wanted the team to draft a more proven collegiate player like Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor or his UCLA teammate Darren Collison. But the team opted to go with potential over college production and draft Holiday. At 6-4 Jrue has great size for a point guard, but a lot of scouts doubted his ability to play point guard at the NBA level. The Sixers and Holiday insisted that he was a point guard and he could produce in the NBA.
"I'm most definitely a point guard," Holiday said. "I can distribute the ball. I can lock up on defense. I see myself as a point guard."
In his rookie year Holiday started 51 games while averaging only 24.2 minutes per game. He averaged 8 points and 3.8 assists. Holiday played well despite his young age and showed some flashes and potential that the team knew he had. At the end of the season, out went Eddie Jordan and in came Doug Collins. Collins knew the kind of basketball player the Holiday family can produce. He coached Jrue’s father Shawn while he was an assistant at Arizona State University in the early 1980’s. Holiday has started all 56 games for the Sixers this season and has improved in almost every statistical category. He has averaged 13.8 points and 6.2 assist per game. Earlier this month, Holiday showed the all around game he has, when he posted his first career triple double against the Nets. The new Sixers coach deserves a lot of the praise for the point guard’s growth this season and has not been shy about giving Holiday complements.
“He can play both ends of the floor, “said Collins “He can disrupt you (on defense). He’s unselfish. He makes the game easier for other people.”
The ranking is who the best player is right now, so his past or future accomplishments shouldn't be that relevant in the discussion. Holiday has emerged as one of the leaders on the young Sixers club. His size and wingspan allows him to be able to be a lock down defender at the point guard position. The 6-4 point guard has a large 6-7 wingspan which allows him to be a very disruptive defender. Holiday has also become an important voice on the court and has the huge responsibility of running the Sixers offense. He is more of an old school point guard, his main focus is to run the team’s offense first and worry about his personal scoring second. This is a rare commodity and this attitude won’t get him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But it is what the point guard should do. He also can score the ball when he is asked to; he is able to create his own shot and is a great finisher around the basket. His jump shot has also come a long way since his rookie season and he has slowly developed some range from 3 point distance. We at BLN are not the only people who have a high opinion of the 20-year old point guard.
"He might go down as one of the greatest point guards defensively. I think defensively he has a Gary Payton presence where he can pressure a guy full court." Andre Iguodala
"I honestly believe that next year, you're going to be talking about him being one of the top five point guards in the NBA. I think you're going to speak about him in the same breath (with) Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Jrue.” Doug Collins
Holiday has come a long way in the last year and a half he has been with the team. He is one of the team’s best defenders, offensive weapons and facilitator as well as having the responsibility of running the offense. The 20-year old should only continue to get better as he gains more experience and matures physically. His performance has earned him a spot ahead of fellow 76er Andre Iguodala, if he continues to grow as a player; he should see himself slowly rise up our ranking in the next few years.