How Far Can Sixers Franchise Go with Jrue Holiday as Its Best Player?
USA TODAY Sports
Before we begin, it's important to note that Holiday's emergence as Philly's best player is not what the organization had in mind.
In fact, they felt as though bringing in a dominant and proven center would be what the Sixers needed to turn the corner. That big man was supposed to be Philadelphia's best player.
That big man was Andrew Bynum.
Bynum was acquired to come in and turn the Sixers into a championship contender, yet he still has not played in a game. What everyone had hoped for has turned into one of the NBA's biggest disappointments.
Somehow, through it all, Holiday has found a way to transform his game into a whole new realm and looks like Philly's next big thing.
Being the best player on any given squad doesn't guarantee that team success, though.
Success requires a special player. We're eventually going to get the opportunity to see if Holiday is that special kind of player or not.
But for now, let's take a look at how far the Sixers can go with Holiday as that player.
A 15-22 record might throw off most of the players on a team, but it doesn't appear as though it's affecting Holiday whatsoever.
He's averaging 18.4 points, 8.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, all while he's 22 years old. The 18.4 doesn't seem like many points, but it has to when you see that he's the 15th-leading scorer in the NBA. His assist numbers are also good enough for fourth in the league. Not only is he fourth in numbers, but everybody in the top 10 in assists is at least 24 years old.
The numbers are pretty and all, but it's more than statistics with Holiday.
He's all about being a leader, and it's clear as day when you watch him play. Finding a game where he doesn't play as hard as he can or give every ounce of effort is almost impossible to do.
He consistently gives it his all.
Looking at the rest of the season isn't about who Philly is playing as much as it is about who is playing on the team.
The current 2012-13 roster without Bynum just isn't good enough to make a deep playoff run. It's frustrating to say that, but the facts can't be overlooked.
There is no question about Holiday being the best player, but he's enough to change the landscape of a team that doesn't have the talent to support him.
Philadelphia is sitting in the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference, four games back from the eighth spot. It looks as though the Sixers would have to win anywhere from 44 to 47 games to get into the playoffs.
That means to win 44 games, Philly would have to finish out the last 45 games of the season with a 29-16 record.
Again, it's more about who the Sixers have on the team and not about their future opponents. There is a chance that Bynum comes back later this year, but that needs to be looked at as a long shot. You just never know with him. It's pretty safe to say that Holiday will remain as the Sixers' best player throughout the rest of the season.
So where does that leave the team?
It leaves it in a similar situation as the one it's in now.
The Sixers have proved that they can't consistently beat the teams that they should, while still struggling to win many of the games where they're considered underdogs in.
Regardless of how great he's been, almost all of the success, failure and pressure lies on the shoulders of Holiday.
That's just what comes with being a leader.
Philadelphia is realistically looking at fighting to get into the playoffs this year. There's no other way around it. The team is already struggling, and it's going to need another team to begin to slow down if it wants a shot at the postseason.
Holiday has been the biggest surprise this season, but his emergence just isn't enough to get this team in a position to make any kind of playoff run this year.
This is where everything starts to look a bit brighter for the Sixers.
It's unrealistic to expect Holiday to improve over the next five years as much as he has in this past season, but it's not unrealistic to expect the rest of the team to.
The best part about the team getting better is that Holiday will still be both the best player and leader of the team. Leading a group of men that are capable of accomplishing success on the court is really all he can ask for.
There's no way around it—Bynum plays a major role in the speed of this team's transformation. If he were to get healthy and signed to a multi-year extension, then this team could be competing for an Eastern Conference title within the next two seasons.
That's how important he can be when healthy.
How long until the Sixers become a championship contender?
However, trusting him to consistently play doesn't look like the smartest move. It just feels like he won't be around this organization for too long.
If Holiday can develop into one of the five best point guards in the league, then the sky is pretty much the limit for Philly. Sure, he'll need another star and they'll need to put better shooters around him and somebody that can score in the post, but acquiring and developing those kind of players takes time.
The goal is for those players to come along right as Holiday is beginning to hit his peak as a player.
That peak is only a couple of years away.
It feels like it is decades away, but the NBA should be on the lookout for the Philadelphia 76ers somewhere around the 2016-17 season.
I already have my countdown running.
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