When the last name Holiday (Halladay) is heard around town the one and only thought that comes to any Philadelphian’s mind is Doc Halladay, our reigning Cy Young Award winning pitcher. As this particular Halladay commands the spotlight there is another Holiday slowly making a name for himself on the basketball court. His name is Jrue Holiday, the 76ers starting point guard.
Jrue Holiday born in Chatsworth, California is the first basketball player born in the 1990’s to play in the NBA. As a 4 year starter on his North Hollywood High School varsity basketball team Holiday was highly touted as one of the best ballers in the country. During his senior year of 2008 he was named Gatorade Player of the Year and led his school to a state title. Ranked #2 in the nation by Rivals.com Holiday took his talents to UCLA. Holiday played one season for the Bruins at shooting guard alongside Darren Collinson before making the leap to the NBA.
With the 17th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft the 76ers made Jrue Holiday the newest addition to the City of Brotherly Love. With Holiday slotted as a possible lottery pick it was a definite steal for the Sixers. A player with a ton of upside but must be groomed just right. His high risk high reward certainly worked in favor for the Sixers at pick 17.
The common gripes from the fans of the Sixers selection were many and often. Believe it or not the Philly phaithful have a ton to say about their teams executive decisions. Most fans wanted Ty Lawson or Eric Maynor, players who had starred on the collegiate level for all four years and proved to be NBA ready. It was the thought of a sure thing over a work in progress. The problem with a Lawson or a Maynor is that they have already reached their ceiling while Holiday has so much upside and potential to flourish. Based on that potential and upside the Sixers got a steal at the 17th pick. At 6’4 Holiday has the body and athleticism to play in the NBA regardless of his age. His shut down defense is something the 76ers can desperately use.
In his rookie season Holiday played sparingly under Eddie Jordan, averaging 24 minutes a game and 8.0 points a game. He earned a spot in the starting lineup in mid March and lost it for a few games to Louis Williams until eventually regaining it, starting the final 41 games at point guard. Over the final 12 games Holiday averaged 12 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. Not bad for a kid who had just turned 20.
With new coach Doug Collins as the teacher 2011 has hardly been a sophomore slump for Jrue Holiday. Collins has let the reigns loose on his young point guard, giving him the freedom to do his own thing and it has paid dividends. Holiday is slowly developing into one of the cornerstones for this Sixers franchise. His upside is beginning to blossom with experience, starting every game this season at point guard.
“His whole game changed,” Collins said. “I think he’s been playing great basketball.”
Through 48 games this year Holiday is averaging 14.1 points, 6.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 4 rebounds a game. He recorded his first career triple double Wednesday night vs. New Jersey posting an 11 point, 11 assist, 10 rebound game. The star potential Stefanski and the Sixers saw in this kid is starting to take shape. He is as much the future of the Sixers as any player on this roster. So when all the Holiday/Halladay talk ensues don’t forget about a young point guard making some noise too.