I'm unbelievably tired of talking about losing. If I'm going to make it through the next 31 days in one piece, I need some kind of respite from what this season has been reduced to - counting losses. In order to try to maintain my sanity, I'm going to try to come up with something to root for as often as I can. First on the list: Jrue Holiday's three-point stroke.
When Jrue was drafted, the Sixers told us his jumper was not fundamentally flawed, simply that he needed reps to make his form consistent and the numbers would follow. I was a tad skeptical when I checked his college numbers (30.7%), even more so when I saw rushed jumpers from the kid, with what looked like poor balance early in the season.
Since then, we've witnessed a transformation. Jrue's shot has slowed down, his form has improved, his confidence has skyrocketed and the results have been nothing short of beautiful from three. The numbers really tell the story. Before he was moved into the starting lineup, Jrue was shooting a respectable 34.5% from three (20/58), slightly below league-average, but still a very good number considering my expectations for him in his rookie season. In the 25 games since he took over the starting PG spot, started getting regular minutes and sharing the floor with the starters more frequently, Jrue has shot 50% from three (27/54). All told, 47/112 is 42% and good for 11th in the league (among players who have attempted 100 or more threes).
For some statistical perspective, the Sixers haven't had a 40% three-point shooter (with over 100 3PA) since '06-07 when Kyle Korver did it. Korver was over 40% from '04-05 through '06-07, prior to him Aaron McKie was the last.
What does this mean going forward? Well, it could mean a great deal. If these numbers are legit, and we're nearing the point where the sample size is big enough to say it isn't merely a fluke, having a point who's a serious threat to stretch the floor opens up a host of options at other positions. Iguodala at the two works a whole lot better when you have a one who can drain it from deep. If Jrue is a threat to knock down threes, when we get away from this ridiculous Princeton Offense, and start running some high screen and rolls, teams won't be able to simply bounce underneath. If they do, it's going to cost them three points. Coupled with Jrue's feel for the position and great passing skills, a deep jumper completes the picture of an ideal pick-and-roll PG. Skilled bigs who can roll to the hoop (and catch tough passes on their way), or step out to 18 feet and knock down a jumper will become that much better. Finally, if Jrue is a legitimate threat to hit threes going forward, Andre Iguodala will become a better offensive player. The lane will unclog, to a degree, opening it up for Iguodala to penetrate and, if need be, kick out to Jrue for a wide-open look.
So if you really can't bear to root for losses, and I don't really blame you if you can't, root for Jrue to keep getting his reps from three, and keep hitting them at a high rate. This may be most important on court development over the final 16 games. Keep it above 40%, Jrue.