As we all know by now, the reserves for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game were announced Thursday evening and 76er Jrue Holiday was chosen as a back-up guard for the Eastern Conference squad. Jrue’s selection by the NBA coaches to the ASG in Houston means that Holiday (22-years-old) now owns a place in Sixers lore, as he becomes the youngest player in franchise history to be named an All-Star.
Whether or not Jrue is having an All-Star caliber year is a topic that has been debated many times here at Philadunkia.com. This post in not an attempt to continue that thread. Today we’re going to put that hot button issue aside for a minute and celebrate Jrue’s selection to the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.
First I’ll take a quick look at Jrue’s numbers so far this season, which in themselves are pretty impressive. Then I’ll revisit the 2009 NBA Draft to see how Jrue stacks up against the guards who were selected ahead of him that June.
As one of the few bright spots in a so far very frustrating 2012-13 season, “The Jruth” is averaging team-highs of 19.0 points (on 45.5% shooting) and 9.0 assists per game. The only other player in the League currently averaging 19 points and 8+ dimes per game is OKC’s Russell Westbrook – now a three time All-Star. However, Jrue is the only player in the League averaging at least 19.0 points and 9.0 assists per outing. I would argue that his assist numbers would be much higher if this team had wing players who could knock down open shots consistently (I’m looking at you Wright, Swaggy and J-Rich) and a big with good hands.
If he continues to produce at that level, Jrue will join Wilt Chamberlain as the only player in franchise history to have averaged 18-plus points and 8-plus assists in a single season. That’s a pretty exclusive club.
In addition to his scoring and ability to find open teammates for buckets, Jrue is also pulling down 4.2 rebounds per night. 19, 9 & 4 are excellent numbers, but admittedly they’re not eye popping. Still, let me give you some perspective on how good of a stat line that is in 2012-13. The only other player in the Association carrying a shine of 19+ points; 8+ assists and 4+ boards a night is…you guessed it, Russell Westbrook (22; 8.1 & 5.3 per).
Also of note is that Holiday has notched 11 double-doubles in 41 games (T — 32nd in the League) so far this season and one triple-double (T – 3rd in the League).
Holiday’s advanced stat line reads as follows:
Asst Pct.: 41.5% (5th in the League);
Usage Pct.: 26.9% (17th in the League).
He owns a PER of 18.90.
Now let’s examine the 2009 NBA Draft…
If you recall, the Sixers selected Jrue with the 17th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. When you take a look back at the guards that were taken before Jrue that year, you’ll see that the Sixers front office made a very solid decision :
2009 NBA Draft
#3 pick : James Harden (OKC)
#4 pick: Tyreke Evans (SAC)
#5 pick: Ricky Rubio (MIN)
#6 pick: Johnny Flynn (MIN)
#7 pick: Stephen Curry (GSW)
#10 pick: Brandon Jennings
#12 pick: Gerald Henderson (CHA)
You read that correctly, there were seven guards drafted before Jrue back in 2009. Holiday had a great quote on Twitter last night about that Draft, “I was selected 17th, was the last one in green room…remember thinking I am just going to work my butt off and now I am an all-star.”
IMO, only one guard on the above list is absolutely a better NBA player than Holiday. That player is James Harden. Ironically, Harden will also be making his 1st ASG appearance next month in Houston. Some of you may like Jennings and / or Curry more than Holiday and a case can be made for each of those guards, but you cannot say for certain that they are better players then Holiday right now.
As for the others on that list…After a ridiculous rookie year, Evans has faded into an average player. A lot of that may have to do with the fact that Evans is playing for the Kings, but some of it is on the Chester native himself. Rubio’s body of work isn’t big enough to prove anything yet. Flynn has washed out of the NBA and is currently playing in Australia. Henderson is a solid SG for the Bobcats, but is not on the same level as Jrue. In short, I’d say the drafting of Holiday, who at the time was a 19-year-old kid with 1-year of college experience, has worked out very well for the 7-6.
Whether or not you believe Holiday is having an All-Star caliber season in 2012-13 is irrelevant to me (for the purposes of this post). When you look at his currents stats as well as go back and analyze the crop of guards from the early 1st round of the 2009 NBA Draft you come to one simple conclusion. Jrue Holiday has developed into one of the best young players in the game. Right now, that’s enough for me.