PR2011: Jrue Holiday

That's the Jruth. Credit: The Bleacher Report

I’ve realized while writing this series that I don’t write nearly as much as I should about this guy (copyrighted by Jon Gruden). Jrue, aka the Jruth, doesn’t have the flashiest game for a 20-year old. He isn’t turning heads with behind the back passes or dunks over cars like some other young players taking the NBA by storm. But he is in his own, unique way, where he’s doing things that most guys his age (like myself) can only dream of.

Speaking of dreams, Sixers fans dream a lot about what Jrue Holiday can become. He’s only 20, after all. Jrue has proven to be adept offensively and defensively, albeit at different times of his career. He can shoot a bit, score a bit, pass a bit, rebound a bit, and defend a bit. He played well enough to get his first triple-double earlier this year, even.

But the one issue I see with Jrue’s game is that, so far, he hasn’t done any one thing exceptionally well, other than being exceptionally young for an NBA starter. When the youth and the dreaming disappear, Jrue has to have something which makes him exceptional. While in time he may gain many all-NBA strengths, he doesn’t currently have one transcendent skill, one that will carry him throughout his career. The good news though: he should have a lot of time to figure something out.

OFFENSE

Shooting

Stats: 44.4% FG, 35.2% 3FG, 79.3% FT

Jrue’s shooting was much better than anyone anticipated coming out of his one year of college. He actually hit 39% of his threes last year, in 159 attempts. He took more than 2 per game, and has increased that number to almost 3 this year. With that increase his 3-point percentage has dipped to around league-average. For my liking, he takes too many contested threes, so if he cuts down on that I think his percentage will increase.

His overall shooting, despite his dip in threes, has remained practically steady. He has a solid mid-range shot, which he uses often, including off the dribble. He has a surprisingly quick release on his shot, though takes a second to set his feet when standing still. But when he’s moving, he can get a shot up really quickly. It’s hard to block when he’s on the move – combining that with his size, he can shoot over almost any opposing point guard. His free throw shooting also isn’t bad (but could get better).

Scoring

Stats: 13.6 PPG, 11.4 FGA, 2.7 3FGA, 2.6 FTA

Jrue can score – I actually think he should be the number 1 scoring option among our starters, but he doesn’t have that “scorer’s mentality” (by that I mean a certain level of selfishness needed to score 20 points per game). He averages 13.6 because he’s primarily responsible for setting up the offense and scoring opportunities for others, and usually doesn’t go into a set looking to score himself. Generally, that’s what point guards do. Also, this isn’t what Lou Williams would do, but I digress.

Jrue’s mid-range game is better than anyone else on the Sixers, including guys like Lou Williams, who use their mid-range game a lot but as a detriment to themselves. Jrue actually uses his mid-range game to set up teammates and to score more effectively elsewhere, like at the rim. He gets to the rim much more this year, compared to last year, and can finish too with either hand. He doesn’t draw many fouls.

One more thing I’d like to draw your attention to: Jrue’s shooting much more from within the 3-lines than last year. Last year, 30.6% of his shots were threes. This year, only around 22.3% are threes. He’s taken twice as many foul shot per game, and his 2-point percentage has increased in turn. The only difference is a declining 3FG%, which I mentioned before (and I believe that will increase).

Passing and Ball-Handling

Stats: 6.1 AST, 2.7 TO. 2.31 AST/TO

Jrue needs to improve that assist-turnover ratio, as 2.31 to one simply isn’t that good for a starting point guard. While 40th in the NBA (among 83 qualified NBA players), this list includes non-point guards. He needs to add assists (not happening with Andre at point-forward) or drop turnovers (which he’s had more of lately). I don’t see Jrue as the ball-dominant point guard of the Chris Paul/Steve Nash breed.

DEFENSE

Rebounding

Stats: 4.0 RPG, 0.8 ORPG, 3.2 DRPG

Jrue can rebound, especially for a point guard. The Sixers have been a decent rebounding team mainly because they have non-bigs who do a good job on the defensive boards. Imagine if they had more bigs who could rebound and defend…

Individual and Team Defense

Stats: 1.5 STL, 0.4 BLK

Jrue can play very good defense. he proved that last year, when, at the end of the year, he was the only guy who tried to defend every night. He was a tenacious defender who was also probably overanxious, made a few mistakes but put a lot of pressure on the ball. He can still do that, but he hasn’t as much this year.

Well, why not? Because his aggressive defense often puts him in foul trouble. It was a recurring theme earlier this year, when he’d have to leave because he picked up two fouls, six minutes into the first quarter. He can’t stay on the court when he plays his best defense, and he’s too valuable to the offense to be off the floor. What I always admired about Gary Payton (“The Glove”, renowned for his defense) was that he was able to stay on the floor so much while playing such stingy defense – check out his Basketball-Reference.com page after the next paragraph. His durability and minutes played during his prime are pretty ridiculous.

Jrue does get a lot of steals. When he falls behind his man he’s good at reaching in and poking away the basketball. At his best, he gets steals by disrupting the opponent’s dribble, 1-on-1. He can be great defensively overall if he can learn how to play aggressively without fouling. Right now, he’s actually an overrated defender. But like the theme of this Player Review, finally the final one, he has a lot of time (and potential) to improve here.

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