The NBA goes through cycles where some positions are very strong while others are weak. And the point guard position is definitely a strength in the NBA. The list of great point guards right now is a long one. Chris Paul has taken a franchise with a history of losing and has turned them into one of the best in the league. Derrick Rose is the reigning NBA MVP and the last two number one overall picks were point guards. How could we talk about point guards in the NBA and not mention the talented, but over hyped Jeremy Lin. In 2009 the 76ers selected their own point guard of the future when they drafted Jrue Holiday with the 17th selection out of UCLA. The 76ers point guard has dropped one spot on our list from last year but still finds himself at #19.
Coming into the season, the 76ers looked like a team that didn’t really know where they fit in the NBA landscape. The NBA was turning into a league of super teams where multiple super stars where needed to even compete in the league. How could a young 76ers team compete when they lacked even one premiere super star caliber player. Most phans had all but given up on Iguodala playing on that level and we just hoped that one of our young guns would develop and lead the previously historic franchise. Some pointed to 2010 2nd overall pick Evan Turner, while others thought the versatile Thad Young could continue to improve. But most of the pressure was on 3rd year player Jrue Holiday.
The reality of the 2012 76ers is they don’t need any one player to become a star to have a successful season. Doug Collins has turned this young and in experienced club into one of the most unselfish and defensively sound team’s in franchise history. The leader and quarterback of this young club is 21 year-old point guard Jrue Holiday. The young point guard possesses a rare combination of size and speed that few NBA point guards have. Jrue is 2nd on the team with 1.5 steals per game. His 6-4 180 pound frame and his 6-7 wingspan give him the opportunity to be one of the game’s best defenders. When you pair him with Iguodala, you have one of the best pairs of perimeter defenders in the game. Jrue is a major reason for the team allowing opponents to a league best 87.5 points per game.
Jrue’s defensive game may be his strength but he is also very effective on the offensive side of the ball. He is 2nd on the team in scoring at 13.6 per game, 2nd in assist with 4.5 per game and 3rd on the team in 3 point shots made. His size makes him very versatile and gives Coach Collins more options when the Night Shift checks in. He plays off the ball at times and allows Lou Williams to run the point.
His perimeter shooting has really improved but Jrue needs to be more aggressive and attack the rim if he wants to continue to progress as a player. Coach Collins has a very high opinion of Holiday, last year he said that he expects Jrue to become one of the game’s best point guards in the coming seasons. He knows what Jrue can bring on the defensive end and loves the energy he brings on the offensive side.
“I love where Jrue is at from this time last year to right now, I love the pace he plays. You can’t underestimate the pace that he plays.” Coach Collins said, “Some guys go 100 miles an hour but he changes speeds. To me that is like that running back that gets to the line and can make that little step.”
Many had hoped Jrue would take the next step and become the super star we thought we needed this year. But that has simply not been the case. His PPG are down slightly from 14.0 in 2010-2011 to 13.6 this season, his APG are down to almost by 2 and he is shooting a career worst 42% from the field. While Jrue has not progressed as quickly as some would like, he is still in the middle of another solid season. It’s impossible and unfair to evaluate any member on this 76ers team based on stats alone. They play the game with a team first concept and this can cause players stats to suffer.
The point guard position assumes a lot of responsibly on any ball club and it is even greater on a team coached by Doug Collins. This has caused the coach to very hard on the young player at times. Earlier in the season Collins yanked Holiday within the first few minutes of the game after an early turnover by the young point guard. Jrue has to be able to push the ball and be aggressive without making carless decisions. Collins wants him to be smart but also knows the team needs him to be aggressive with the ball.
“We need Jrue to be more aggressive and looking to score the ball early. “ Coach Collins said. “ He needs to score for our team. I don’t want any indecision about what he needs to do for our team”
After making his claim at the 18th spot on last year’s countdown, many thought Jrue had the talent and potential to fly up the 2012 edition. While the young point guard has continued to slowly progress as a player, it isn’t as fast as many phans would like to see. It is unfair to be overly critical on a “kid” who could be in the middle of his senior season in college. With his age there are going to be highs and lows and you just hope that he learns from his mistakes and becomes a better player in the end. Jrue Holiday has the talent to become a staple on this list and should only continue to rise up the countdown over the next few years.