The Impact of Jrue Holiday's Return
The return of Jrue Holiday could not have come any sooner for the Pelicans.
I was harsh on the Pelicans for the lack of supporting cast around Anthony Davis and dismal 0-8 start to the season. Part of that was due to team missing a crucial piece to their roster in Holiday. Since the former all-star has returned, New Orleans has dragged their record up to 7-12 and have won 5 of their last 7 with Holiday in the lineup. Suddenly, there is some hope for the Pelicans and their transcendent talent in Davis. The early performance from Holiday has been exactly what the team had envisioned since giving up a fortune for him in 2013. His statline has been outstanding, posting 16 points and 6 dimes a night on 47 percent shooting.
The return of the Holiday has allowed the team to structure their offense around the pick and roll play of Holiday and Davis. Holiday is a great pair with Davis in the pick and roll because he is excellent finishing around the basket and can keep defenses honest with his jumper. This capability allows the floor to spaced well and keeps defenses from solely keying in on Davis. He is a shooting 58 percent on shots 5 feet from the basket and shooting a blistering 44% from three per NBA advanced stats.
His presence and offense skill set alone takes enormous pressure off Davis and gives the Pelicans a much needed legitimate second option. On the other side of the ball, Holiday is a plus defender who is able to pressure the ball and use his 6'4 size to make life difficult on opposing guards. A prime example of this was the Pelicans last win against the Los Angeles Lakers where Holiday absolutely smothered Jordan Clarkson and held him to 9 points. Holliday’s 6'7 wingspan can allow the Pelicans to slot him at Shooting Guard and use the effective Tim Frazier or E’twaun Moore in lineups with him. All in all, this Pelicans squad needs all the help they can get as Eric Gordon left a major hole at SG that first round pick Buddy Hield will take time to fill. The lineup of Frazier/Moore - Holiday - Hill - Jones - and Davis should be capable of keeping the Pelicans competing in the West. While it will be tough the team to sneak into the playoffs after their bad start, the return of Holiday should make thing interesting for them in the difficult Western Conference.