Jrue Holiday needs to take his game to the next level this season and the addition of Andrew Bynum should act as a supercharger to Holiday’s progression. The main factors in becoming an elite guard for Holiday are an increase in 3pt attempts and attacking the basket. The offense should be set much differently then the past few seasons because there are only two ball handlers on the team compared to four last year. This means that Holiday will be the primary initiator of the offense for the first time in his career. Defensively, Holiday has all the tools to become a top tier NBA defender for years to come.
The 3pt shooting is the quick and easy part. Attacking the basket is going to prove a more difficult task, but the addition of Bynum certainly helps. To get an understanding of how lacking in these two categories Holiday has been, here are numbers from the past 2 seasons. Holiday was 8th in total minutes played, 102nd in free throw attempts (tied with Gordon Hayward), and 73rd in made 3pt shots while shooting a very good 37%. On defense, another year of growth and learning is all that Holiday really needs to continue his development on that end of the court.
Let’s go over his shooting numbers.
Jrue is a career 46% shooter on 2pt field goal attempts. On 3pt shots, Holiday shoots a very good 37.7%. To put that in perspective, Holiday scores 92 points for every 100 2pt field goal attempts and 113 points for every 100 3pt attempts he takes. From 3-land, Holiday is the equivalent of a 57% shooter on 2pt attempts. Conversely, from 2, Holiday is the equivalent of a sub 31% 3pt shooter.
This past season, Holiday took 2.6 attempts from 3 per game. In games, he took more than 3 attempts from downtown, he made 38.7% of his attempts (48-124). In games he shot 2 or less 3pt shots, Holiday’s efficiency dropped 36.2% (17-47). In 2010-2011, Holiday shot 38.7% in games he took 3 or more 3pt attempts (67-173). It seems that an increase in 3pt attempts per game will not cause a significant decrease in accuracy for Holiday. In fact it’s quite possible that his accuracy will increase with more 3pt attempts as has been the case the last 2 years.
Let’s look at how this can be put into action. If Holiday takes 12.8 shots per game next year, the same as this past season, what will his numbers look like if he doubles his 3pt attempts?
We will assume that his 2pt % will be the same as last season, his 3pt % is his career average (37.7%) and his free throw numbers are the same as last season. Jrue scored 13.5 points per game last season; under these circumstances he would score 14.1 points per game. This past season, scoring 14.1 points and playing 65 games, would have put Holiday at 48th in total points. The .6 points a game increase for Holiday is a 4.4% increase in scoring, If the 76er unit as a whole increased their offense by 4.4% this past season, they would have gone from 23rd in points per game to tied for 13th with the Indiana Pacers and better than the Bulls, Clippers and Lakers
This past season, Jrue was 26th among all guards in shots at the rim, 3.4 per game. Holiday was tied for 34th in points per game at the rim amongst guards. The reason being, he shot 53.6% at the rim while the league average for guards is over 60%. In 2010-2011, Holiday was both 27th in shots and points at the rim with 3.6 attempts and 61%. For all intensive purposes, Holiday has a down year putting the ball in the basket this season at close range. With a little improvement in attacking the basket and finishing, Holiday could end up with 4 attempts per game at near 60%. That increase in rim attacks will also create additional fouls that leads to more free throw attempts. Holiday could easily take 3.5 free throw attempts per game next year.
Breaking down the numbers, Holiday could have a season scoring next year that looks like this on a per game basis.
4 Shots at the rim at 60%, 4.8 points
3.6 Shots from 3-23 feet at 38%, 2.7 points
5.2 3pt attempts at 37.7%, 5.9 points
3.5 Free Throw attempts at 80%’ 2.8 points
That would leave Holiday at 16.2 points per game and an increase in scoring of 2.7 points per game. A 20% increase in production on the same amount of shots from last season is a huge but very possible bump in production from Holiday.
Now factor in the removal of Lou Williams-Meeks for Jason Richardson, Dorell Wright and Nick Young. That factor will likely bring an increase in assists per game to Holiday. These guys will space the floor well and be great kick outs on the pick n roll.
Next season we can expect the production of Holiday to look something like this…
35 minutes, 16 points (45/37/80), 4 rebounds, 7+ assists, 1.8 steals and less than 2.5 turnovers.
If Holiday substantially increases his 3pt attempts it will do wonders for his entire game. The lane will open up, he will be able to create for others better and his production as a whole will go up. This can be the season where Holiday elevates his game to truly being one of the best young guards in the game on the offensive end. His defensive game should continue to improve with another year of maturity and continued instruction from Doug Collins. How much the presence of Bynum shortens the curve for Holiday remains to be seen. There are also questions about the rotation and offensive schemes that will be run, but once those items are figured out and Holiday has full reigns of the offense, there is no reason to believe that Holiday won’t vault into a Top 10 point guard. An offense with a dominating inside presence and 3pt shooters is the perfect scenario for Holiday to flourish in the 4th season with the 76ers