Philadelphia 76ers: Jrue Holiday Remains a Work in Progress

Roy BurtonContributor IDecember 29, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 25:  Forward Mike Miller #13 of the Miami Heat defends against Guard Jrue Holiday #11 of the Philadelphia Sixers at American Airlines Arena on March 25, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Two games does not a season nor a career make, so there is no reason to jump to any conclusions about Jrue Holiday.

Rest assured, there is no cause for alarm. The Philadelphia 76ers’ third-year point guard is going to be just fine.

Of course, when the future cornerstone of any franchise starts the season by shooting 36 percent from the floor—to go along with an alarming assist-to-turnover ratio of .57-to-1—there will always be those who worry.

But as evidenced in the 76ers' two preseason games against the Washington Wizards, Holiday didn't miss a beat during the lockout as he averaged 18 points and 5.5 assists per game. Right now, it's just a matter of Holiday letting the game come to him instead of forcing things on the offensive end.

This isn't completely uncharted territory for the 76ers' 21-year-old point guard. Holiday got out of the gate slowly last season as well, shooting a combined 5-for-20 in Philadelphia's first two games of the 2010-11 campaign.

This year, Holiday followed up a lackluster performance against the Portland Trail Blazers in Monday's season opener (13 points, two assists, six turnovers) with a similar showing in the 76ers' 103-83 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday (15 points, two assists one turnover).

While he cut down on his mistakes against the Suns, Holiday still struggled to find the range on his jump shot, finishing 5-for-15 from the field. After two games, Holiday's scoring average is the same as it was last season (14.0 PPG), but he's having to work a lot harder for his points.

Plain and simple, the 76ers need to figure out ways to get Holiday better looks at the basket. Of his 25 field-goal attempts so far this season, 64 percent of them have come from 16 feet and beyond.

76ers head coach Doug Collins is well aware of this, and that was likely part of the reason why Holiday was still on the court late in the fourth quarter on Wednesday with Philadelphia leading 98-75. Holiday fell and tweaked his right knee with just over three minutes to go, but said after the game that he felt fine.

"He just banged his knee falling on the floor," said Collins in his post-game press conference. "He's laying there and I am ready to shoot myself, but he is OK."

Only two games into a 66-game schedule, it's hard to make a definitive judgment on any player on the 76ers at this point. That said, center Spencer Hawes appears to be much more active on both ends of the court this season. Against the Suns, Hawes narrowly missed his second double-double in as many games, finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds.

"He's so much leaner and so much more fit [than last season]," said 76ers head coach Doug Collins during his post-game press conference. "If Spencer stays healthy and sound, he's going to have a great, great year."

The best player for the 76ers so far this season has been oft-maligned shooting guard Andre Iguodala, who appears to have refined his jumper during the lockout. Through his team's first two games, Iguodala is shooting 57.1 percent from the field and a blistering 63.6 percent from beyond the arc.

But just as the jury remains out on Hawes and Iguodala, no verdict can yet be rendered on Holiday, either.

As with most players his age, Holiday's game—and his career—remains a work in progress. His early-season struggles are nothing more than growing pains—merely a small part of his evolution into a future star.