Philadelphia sports fans have a tendency to under-appreciate a lot of their athletes. We criticize them until no end, until they're gone, and we really wished we had treated them better.
It's like that ex-girlfriend that you kind of wished you treated better, but because you hyper-focused on her flaws, you never really appreciated all the good things about her.
And I'm not talking about Brian Dawkins, Mike Schmidt and Dr. J, those are clearly tens.
The underappreciated ex-girlfriend is usually a seven or eight out of ten. Not perfect, clearly flawed, but still better than 80-90% of women out there.
I'm talking more about the Donovan McNabbs, Ryan Howards and Andre Iguodalas of the world - All pretty flawed players, but frankly still excellent athletes with a lot more going for them than underthrowing receivers, swinging strike outs and ill-advised jump shots - the things we hyper-focus on.
Generally, the national media and fans give these athletes their due, while Philly sports fans trash them. Given all of this, I found it remarkable how the reaction was to Jrue Holiday's extension.
Here were some much-discussed comments from non-Sixers fans on ESPN.com:
"Hmmmmm, Louis Williams 4yrs 21 million or Holiday at 4yr/41 million?????
Lol sixers cause anytime you can lock up the 4th best PG in the division for 41 million and like 20th best in the NBA, it's something that must be done"
"Teams are always worried about letting guys go to other teams and they justify overpaying them to do so.
Holiday is paid 2x Lou Williams and Lou is better"
This launched a full-fledged debate as to who was better, Lou Williams or Jrue Holiday. I know, to us Sixers fans, that isn't even a question. But it came armed with nuggets like these:
"Lou had a better assists:turnover ratio than Holiday last season, Lou had the 5th best ratio in the NBA and a higher assist %, Lou had a better TS% and higher Usage"
"Lou uses more possessions, scores more efficiently, turns it over less and creates more scoring opportunities for his teammates"
"Lou's PER was 20.2 last year, Holiday's just 14.7. He also was responsible for more Win Shares (6.1 to 4.2)"
To which there is one simple counter-argument, that I'm thrilled most Sixers fans brought up:
WATCH THE GAMES!!!
In this new sports world of sabermetric measuring, the timeless method of actually watching the games is losing its value. And it shouldn't.
On top of that, the Sixers don't get a ton of national attention. Their games are rarely nationally televised, they're seldom talked about on ESPN or national sport-talk-radio and even last year's run to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Semis was pretty much ignored.
So people aren't watching the Sixers.
But us fans are. We watch a lot. There are some of us who watch all 82 games, some who watch half of that, and some who mainly just watch in the playoffs.
But we still watch more than the national media does, and we see what Jrue brings:
- An even-keel attitude, composure and tempo to the offense
- Intelligence and a decreased likelihood of mistakes
- Timing as to when to drive and when to stay on the perimeter
- Teamwork and the ability to make the offense move the ball
- Discipline and spacing on the floor
- Nerves in key situations
- A balanced offense
Meanwhile, Lou Williams had good numbers, but hurt the team in lots of areas:
- Lack of ball-movement in the half court
- Lack of rhythm due to poor and rushed shot selection (even when he hit)
- Lack of defense on the perimeter
- Lack of transitional quarterback
- Predictability in big-time situations
- Smothering of teammates offensively
- An isolation offense
Stats will never give you any of these, but watching the games will.
We watch the games, and we appreciate what Jrue Holiday does. We also realize the pitfalls of Lou Williams.
And this year, we're seeing why the Sixers are paying Jrue $10 million per year. As the early-season go-to-guy his numbers are up across the board. Five more points per game, five more assists, more rebounds, steals and blocks, a career best FG% and 3PT%, and most importantly, he's getting to the line almost 2.5 times as often as last year. And I'm not sure any of this is surprising.
We knew this was our break out guy. We've been watching it happen.
Does he have flaws? Absolutely. Jrue still isn't quite decisive enough and could be more aggressive as a scorer. He does miss open teammates at times and probably settles for jump shots too often.
Jrue Holiday is an eight out of ten. And in today's market, $10 million per year is about par for an eight out of ten.
Hopefully by Christmas, Andrew Bynum will be playing in a Sixers uniform, and I think we'll truly see how crucial extending Jrue really was.