The glorified “new offense” featuring Iguodala as the main ball-hander, or point forward, has assisted in winning three of the last five games. Doug Collins inserted this new practice to improve the involvement of AI9 in the Sixers offense. On Tuesday, colleague Kevin Jones and I made note of the Pros and Cons of this new offense.
Yes we’ve had some quality wins with this new wrinkle, but the development of our young point guard — Jrue Holiday — has come to a halt. In that recent piece I highlighted the negative notion of slowing down his progression as a point guard in this League.
Holiday is only 20 years of age and is still learning the point guard position. At UCLA he was mainly used as a two-guard (sometimes Holiday was even at the 3-spot) off the ball with teammate, and current Pacer, Darren Collison handling the rock. As a first round draft pick it was a given that we’d develop his makeup into a starting point guard.
Jrue has improved rapidly in his second season. He’s dipped his hand in all facets of the game as a solid rebounder for his size, good scoring option and improving facilitator.
However, with the launch of this new offense Jrue’s evolution into an elite NBA point man has taken a step back.
In three of the last four games he’s struggled and hardly been a factor in each games’ outcome. Take a look at the last four contests:
Besides his one showcase against the Atlanta Hawks where he scored six of eight times from the field for 15 points, Holiday has struggled to find a niche in the new half court sets. His game against the Hawks was a fluke, considering that was the most dominating performance the Sixers have given this season and even Darius Songaila could’ve scored in double figures. For example, even though the Sixers rang up 117 points that night, Holiday didn’t contribute one measly assist.
His regular season per game stat line reads like this: 13.7 points, 6.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds. Compared to his last four games — including the skewed Hawks game — where it’s 6.5 points, 2.75 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game.
This offense has taken Holiday out of his zone and he hasn’t acquired a role in the new system. Instead Holiday just seems lost, standing around on the perimeter. With his 6-4, 180 pound frame, he struggles to excel at this level moving without the ball and cutting to the basket. Scoring off-ball might’ve worked in college with his size and skill set, but at the NBA level he stands seldom chance.
So what can we do to get Holiday out of his slump? Pulling the plug on the offense will not happen with others excelling under the new set. But creating opportunities in the open court may be beneficial.
Holiday excels in transition thanks to his speed and ability to attack the rim. He sees the open floor well and usually finds the open man. The 76ers currently are third in the NBA in fast break points, behind Toronto and Golden State, averaging 17.3 points per game. We need to make it a point of emphasis to find Jrue on an outlet pass after a defensive board and initiate our fast break game.
Getting out and running with Jrue leading the way will boost his morale and confidence as he picks up easy buckets and gets to the charity stripe. In the NBA, an easy way to shake an offensive funk is with simple shot attempts and free throws.
Also, it’s possible Doug Collins could find these recent struggles from Holiday as alarming to his young guard’s future and sparingly apply the new offense. I think it’d be beneficial to only use this “new” offense when in dire need. Late in games against formidable opponents, Collins could got to it for a needed change of pace. It potentially could throw teams off and some of our late game scoring woes could be solved.
It’s not like we desperately needed to initiate this new offense. Five games ago — when installed — we were sitting pretty at 21-26 after the horrendous early season slump (3-13 to start off). Go back to the basic offense with Holiday running the point for the majority of the game. When we need a bucket and are slumping, apply the new wrinkle and hope to catch the opposing team off-guard.
Holiday gets back into rhythm, his progression continues to advance and the Sixers have a go-to late game offense.
Probably simpler said then done, but one thing is for sure Collins needs to shake things up and get Holiday going again.