As fellow Philadunkia writer Steve Toll will tell you, the 4 year, $41 million extension given to Jrue Holiday was met with mixed feelings from fans of the 76ers. First, let’s agree that $41 million is certainly a lot of money to guarantee a player that has only one season under his belt with a PER higher than the league average of 15.
However, because Jrue is in the middle of his fourth NBA season, it is often overlooked that he is still just 22 years old, meaning jumps in both productivity and efficiency are not only possible, they are likely. Combine this with the fact that at least a dozen teams will have enough cap space to add a max contract this off-season, and it’s safe to say that Jrue would’ve gotten a larger offer as a restricted free agent than he signed with the 76ers.
Thus, if the team had let Jrue enter restricted free agency, which some argue they should have, they would have two options: Let him walk to another team, or pay him at a higher level than they locked him up for now.
While $41 million is a hefty sum of money, Jrue has proven his worth so far this year. In this young season Jrue’s usage rate has increased by over 25%, bringing a dramatic increase in true shooting % and PER along with it. To put his numbers in perspective, let’s compare his stats to another 22 year old point guard:
Holiday: 19.1 PPG, .546 TS%, 43.0 Assist %, 23.0 Turnover %, 18.02 PER
Player #2: 19.3 PPG, .565 TS%, 29.5 Assist %, 16.8 TO %, 18.5 PER
For those curious, player #2 is Damian Lillard, the current frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors. While Lillard is earning rave reviews about his play thus far in his career, it should be noted that Holiday is playing comparable basketball, at the same age as Lillard.
In addition to the impressive offensive numbers, Jrue has held opposing point guards to a meager 12.8 PER and has already faced Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings, a rejuvenated Raymond Felton, and Ty Lawson. These stats do not include his latest performance in which he thoroughly outplayed Kyrie Irving, holding him to 9 points on 4-14 shooting with 5 turnovers (Yeah, yeah…broken finger noted.). Throw in Holiday’s consistently impressive (even more so considering his age) playoff numbers (17.8 Career playoff PER) and Jrue has proven himself to be worthy of the $41 million extension he was given.
While his turnovers have been a concern for all of us here at Philadunkia, it should be noted that Holiday is in good company on that issue. James Harden, Irving, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams and Rondo sit right behind Holiday on the turnovers per game leader list. Still, continuing to be aggressive while learning to limit his mistakes and thus removing himself from the above list will be crucial for Jrue as he takes the step to that highly sought after “next level”.
As Holiday learns to limit his turnovers (and he will under DC) while continuing to play at a very high level, 76ers fans should be excited to realize they have this 22-year old kid locked up for the next four seasons.