Not Doug Collins, not Evan Turner, not Andre Iguodala, not the pending sale, not Spencer Hawes. Not any of those people/things. If you want to hang your hat on something, if you want something to look forward to, some possible light at the end of the tunnel for our Philadelphia 76ers, only two words fit right now: Jrue Holiday. He's up today in our P vs. P series.
Check out my full preseason prediction here. And now, the numbers:
Before we get into it, make sure you check out Statman's awesome post from yesterday in which he used about 500 different metrics to compare Jrue to the rest of the starting PGs around the league.
OK, as you can see from the chart above, Jrue fell just short of the lofty predictions I made for him this season in points-per-game and assists-per-game. He out-performed my guesses for rebounding and turnovers (in a good way). All told, this season was a big success for Jrue. He took an important step after being jerked around for most of his rookie season by Fast Eddie. In his sophomore season, he started all 82 games, led the team in minutes and had a tremendous positive impact when he was on the floor (and off it).
The strides Jrue made were significant, but his work is just beginning. From Statman's work, we can see that he basically performed as an average starting PG in the league at twenty-years-old. An impressive, and necessary evolution to his game, but just getting to the average level isn't going to cut it. Being really good for a twenty-year-old is cool, but the leap from really good to great needs to happen quickly, or sometimes it never happens.
Unfortunately, this isn't entirely up to Jrue. I do feel he was held back last season, possibly for his own good, but that can't go on for much longer. Doug Collins has drilled the importance of ball security into Jrue's head by taking the ball out of his hands for important stretches, but that really can't happen anymore. Jrue needs to spend this summer honing his game, he needs to come into camp (whenever camp starts) with the expectation that this is going to be his team on the offensive end. He needs to carry the confidence gained from defending Wade and LeBron in the playoffs into next year and put it on display on a nightly basis on the defensive end. Jrue has everything you need to be a top-five point guard, the question is whether he's going to be able to put it all together and how quickly.
If all goes according to plan, the Sixers will have significant cap space the year prior to Jrue's first taste of free agency. That means they can add a big piece or two before extending Jrue. That's often a key to success in this league, the timing of when you can make moves versus when you have to lock down your own guys. Big things will be expected of Jrue next season, I hate to say it, but if this team is going to break through their glass ceiling, he's going to need to deliver, and depending on what kind of changes this roster and franchise go through over the coming months, they may need big things out of him just to keep from losing ground.
Jrue Holiday was the best player on the court for either team a number of times this past season, eventually, that may not be a rarity. And wouldn't it be nice if the star everyone is clamoring for was already on the roster?