Jrue Holiday: 4 Areas the 76ers Guard Still Needs to Improve His Game
Before he was old enough to legally drink, Jrue Holiday established himself as the starting point guard for the 76ers. Throughout the 2010-2011 NBA season, Holiday continued to demonstrated why coach Doug Collins predicted he would be an elite guard at the NBA level.
But Holiday is not there yet. He certainly has the potential to be mentioned in the same sentence as Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams. But in order for him to make good on that potential, Holiday is going to have to improve his game. Here's a look at how.
1: Becoming a Floor General
Holiday improved by leaps and bounds from his first season to his second in terms of controlling the tempo of the game, seeing the entire floor, and making good decisions with the basketball. And it showed on the stat sheet, with his assist totals jumping from a paltry 3.8 APG to a respectable 6.5 APG and his AST/TO ratio improving from 1.80 to 2.40.
Despite those improvements, Holiday was still an average PG in both categories. As the season progressed, he seemed to settle into his role and became more comfortable making decisions both in the half court and on the break. But he still looked lost at times and still allowed others (teammates and opponents alike) to dictate the pace of the game too often.
The first (and most important) improvement Holiday must make going into next season is to establish himself as a floor general. He needs to control the pace of the game. He needs to consistently make good decisions with the ball. And he needs to use his size, speed, and vision to create opportunities for his teammates while not increasing his turnover numbers.
Ideally, Holiday should aim to average between 8 and 10 APG with an AST/TO ratio of around 3.50. It is certainly a lofty goal, but that's why its worth pursuing.
2: Improving His Long-Range Shooting
One of the few areas where Holiday regressed in his second season was from beyond the arc. In his rookie season, he made a very respectable 39.0% of his 3-point attempts; in his sophomore season, that number dropped to a relatively mediocre 36.5%.
In order for Holiday to be able to create the space and opportunities he needs in order to effectively run the Philadelphia offense, he's going to need to improve his accuracy from beyond the arc. He doesn't have to shoot lights-out, but if he can improve to around 39 to 40 percent from 3-point territory, it would make a world of difference to his all-around game.
Jrue is certainly capable of being an excellent long-range shooter. He has excellent size and a good release. He just needs to be a bit more accurate with his shot. If Holiday can do that, it'll give opposing defenses one more thing to worry about when guarding him.
3: Becoming a Shut-Down Defender
One of Holiday's strengths has always been his defense. During his first two seasons, he's demonstrated that he possesses the the potential to effectively defend the opposition's best guard. But he's also shown a tendency to get careless on the defensive end, take unnecessary risks, and get lost at times.
Overall, Holiday's defensive game is solid, if not spectacular. He certainly suffers from consistency issues, but that is an area that will likely improve with time and experience. In the meantime, Holiday must focus on improving his positional defense, filling out his frame in order to better handle larger guards, and improving his conditioning.
If he's able to do all three of those things, he should be able to make considerable progress in resolving those consistency issues and establish himself as one of the NBA's primiere defenders are the PG position.
4: Increasing His Scoring
From his first to his second season, Jrue Holiday improved his scoring output considerably. His PPG numbers jumped from eight to 14 and his FG percentage improved from 44.2 percent to 44.6 percent. In order to establish himself as an elite point guard, Holiday must continue to improve his offensive output.
He doesn't have far to go, but a modest improvement from 14 PPG to 16.5 PPG would make a world of difference if coupled with increases in assists and three-point shooting. Part of this improvement should come naturally as part of his development into a floor general.
Too often, Holiday has passed up quality shots in the paint in favor of setting up a teammate for a long-range (and lower percentage) shot. If Holiday can convert just one of those passes into a bucket every game along with returning his three-point percentage to its 2009-10 level, he'll be very close to the 16.5 PPG mark.
Holiday certainly has the talent to take over a game on either end of the floor. But in order for him to develop into a dominant offensive guard, he must continue to refine his game.
His shooting was quite good, but there is still room for improvement, especially in his mid-range game. If he can develop a quality mid-range game to pair with his ability to get into the paint and create, he'll be very difficult to defend.
And if he can do all that while continuing to improve his spot-up shooting from beyond the arc, Holiday will be one of the elite point guards in the NBA.