People whine all the time that the Sixers don’t have a star on the roster.  Well maybe they actually do…

Sports go through trends.  Often times teams copy tendencies of other winning franchises.  Take for example the 2007 New York Giants in the NFL.  The Giants front office approached the draft and free agency heavily targeting defensive linemen.  Even with future Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, the Giants realized that rotating fresh bodies to pressure the quarterback could become a winning strategy. And it was.  In Super Bowl , the Giants took down the undefeated Patriots, primarily because of their defensive line.  In turn, the value of d-linemen has skyrocketed, so much so that a record 12 of them were taken in the first round the following year.

So what in the hell does this have to do with Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers?  Well, just like the NFL, the NBA is changing.  If you look around the game of basketball, more and more teams are having their point guards become the centerpiece of the offense and the face of their franchise, as opposed to the wing player’s we saw dominate most of the 2000’s – think Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Tracy McGrady, etc.

The League wide point guard obsession started with Chris Paul and Deron Williams back in 2005 when the duo was selected third and fourth overall respectively.  Both point guards flashed ridiculous abilities early on and routinely showed thy could take over games, even led their teams deep into the playoffs.  Thus the stock of point guards has rose dramatically.  Just take a look.

2008 draft: Derrick Rose (1st) and Russell Westbrook (4th)

2009 draft: Tyreke Evans (4th); Johnny Flynn (6th); Steph Curry (7th); Brandon Jennings (10th); Jrue Holiday (17th); Ty Lawson (18th) and Darren Collison (21st)

And of course 2010 featured No. 1 overall pick John Wall.  Outside of Johnny Flynn and Holiday, I’d argue that every other point guard listed above has free reigns of his team’s offense.  The Sixers have given Holiday time to get his feet wet and experience the NBA, and he’s shown more than just flashes of becoming a future all-star.

These stats are from each players second year in the league.

Name Points Per Game Shots Per Game Three Point % Field Goal % Free Throw Attempts
Jrue Holiday 14.0 12.2 37.5 % 44.5 % 2.5
Derrick Rose 20.8 17.6 26.7 % 48.9 % 4.3
Russell Westbrook 16.1 14.1 22.1 % 41.8 % 5.1
Tyreke Evans 17.8 16.4 29.1 % 40.9 % 5.7
Steph Curry 18.6 14.2 44.2 % 48.0 % 3.1
Brandon Jennings 16.2 14.7 32.3 % 39.0 % 3.9
Darren Collison 13.2 11.0 33.1 % 45.7 % 2.9


Some quick observations

  • Even Steph Curry, who is surrounded by the League’s biggest ball hog (Monta Ellis), is able to get over 14 shots a game.  And outside of Curry, Jrue Holiday is easily the best three point shooter on this list.
  • Holiday is clearly more efficient numbers wise than Tyreke Evans.  I guess that’s why the Kings are rumored to want UCONN’s Kemba Walker.
  • Brandon Jennings gets completely overrated because of the 55-point eruption he glued to many NBA geeks minds early in his rookie campaign.  He misses way too many shots.
  • Both D-Rose and Westbrook upped their free throw attempts their third year to at least seven per game. Elite NBA players live at the free throw line.

Jrue Holiday is averaging just 14 points because that’s all the Sixers are letting him do.  He has been treated like a young puppy with an electric shock collar around his neck.  I semi-understand that from Doug Collins.  But he has to realize the way the NBA is going and how scoring point guards are almost becoming essential.  It’s time to let Jrue run free.  We already know he is spectacular with his left hand and can drop the 3-ball with regularity.  So it’s time for Doug Collins to change his system to revolve around Jrue becoming a scoring point guard.  More plays need to be drawn up to use his strengths ALL GAME LONG. 

But this is not just a coaching / X&O’s thing.  Holiday has shied away from contact and needs to start getting to the line with more frequency, like so many of the other dominant point guards in today’s NBA.  It seems as though Jrue has the desire and skills to become one of the elite point guards in the League.  In order to take that next step, he will have to learn to attack the rim with authority and no concern for his own well being.  Coach Collins should hold a D-Rose highlight reel film session withe Jrue and show Holiday exactly what needs to be done. 

This past season Holiday was completely phased out of the Sixers fourth quarter strategy too many times.  An ideal example is the game against Dallas on March 1st, where after 13 third quarter points, Holiday disappeared in the fourth.  Age is becoming just a number in the NBA.  Derrick Rose won the MVP award at 22.  Am I saying that Jrue Holiday will win the MVP award?  That’s highly unlikely.  But in order for him to make some all-star appearances and lead the Sixers farther than the first round, he needs to become this team’s first option and a 20 point scoring option immediately.

Right now many of you are probably asking, “What about Dre?  He’s the go-to guy on this team.”

Well, it seems unlikely that AI9 will be in a Sixers uniform next year, so 2011-12 could be the perfect time to launch this new game plan. 

And if Iguodala is back on the 7-6’s roster?  To be honest, it doesn’t matter.  After 7-years of trying use Iguodala as the lead scorer, it’s time for something new. So, Collins will have to calmly explain to Dre his new role as the second option in the offense and hope that he doesn’t spend the 2011-12 season pouting. 

Either way, the Sixers staff and Jrue himself should spend this summer preparing for Holiday’s transition into a scoring point man.

The NBA is changing and so must the Sixers if they want to get into title contention.

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