Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
In the past two games, the Sixers have done pretty much everything right. The Milwaukee anomaly notwithstanding, Evan Turner's inclusion in the starting lineup and subsequently the game for more time (averaging a cool 39 minutes) has done wonders for this team's offense and rebounding. Turner has been handling the basketball a ton and looking extremely Ohio State-like (in a good way, strangely) doing so. But this leaves Jrue Holiday, however, feeling like the odd man out.
All the talk forever has been about Andre Iguodala and Turner not being able to play together, but with things like this happening on the reg, those worries have been flatly quelled. What about the Jrue part of JTI?
The Sixers were bottoms in the league at shot attempts at the rim, despite having the 3rd-best FG% from that range. The last two games against the Celtics and Jazz, the Sixers have done wonders for improving those numbers. A lot of that has been, presumably, Doug Collins instructing his team to go to the basket more because the jumpers that were falling back in January were bricking hardcore. Evan's ability and newfound passion to get to the rim has helped that immensely. Thus, the offense has flourished.
Jrue hasn't played badly the past two games, he's just felt somewhat Meeksish in his approach. The Sixers already have one of those (Jodie Meeks, actually) and Jrue isn't the shooter that Jodie is. There's been some concern among Sixers fans that with Evan and Andre and Louis Williams taking up even more ball-handling duties that Jrue is not the player we thought he was, making him expendable. Jordan, in fact, has already traded him to the Jazz for Derrick Favors.
Just as I preached patience and caution with Evan Turner, I'm going to say the same for Jrue. Even tough he's in his 3rd year, the kid is just 21 years old. He hasn't even found his drink yet, and he's shown the ability to be the best defensive point guard in the league. The fact is, there are more Steve Nash's on defense than there are Jrue's - his defensive prowess should not be ignored, nor should it be taken for granted. A 2.1 PER differential and 4.2 turnovers forced from the point guard position indicate it as such.
Offensively, yeah, it's going to take some adjusting. A big knock on him coming out of UCLA was that he couldn't play off the ball next to Darren Collison. Now, he's a point guard that can shoot. He hasn't been doing a great job leading the offense on a consistent basis, which has made Doug Collins reduce some of his responsibilities on that end of the court. With the way Jrue can shoot (38% 3PT shooter for his career), there's no question he's much better served than Turner to play off the ball. But the fact is, both guys excel with the ball in their hands.
While some are seeing this as a deterrent, that the Sixers can't have those three ball-handlers all distributing and creating simultaneously, I see it as a tremendous strength. Just as the Sixers exploited Evan's matchup on Rajon Rondo, there's going to be a weak link defensively for the opposing team when Jrue/Turner/Iguodala roll out on offense. And the Sixers will punish them for it. Turner will not be EXCLUSIVELY handling point guard duties, nor will Lou or Andre or Jrue. It's point guard by committee - not because they're forced to share the responsibility, but because they're all good enough to do it.
Everything will work itself out from an offensive standpoint because they're all too good for it not to. Trading or dismissing a 21-year-old with worlds of promise because the Sixers have had Evan Turner handling the ball for two games would not be the smart move. All three of these guys are awesome, and they're going to be awesome together for years to come.