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2012 Sixers Player Previews: Jrue Holiday

Jrue Holiday is the most likely Sixer to become Andrew Bynum's Robin.

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

With the acquisition of Andrew Bynum, the Sixers are one player away from being on the path to legitimate title contention. Even if Andrew Bynum proves that last year was a progression towards his future superstardom rather than a one year statistical anomaly, the team needs a dynamic perimeter playmaker in order to really make themselves a contender.

While Michael makes his case that Evan Turner is the most crucial piece of the puzzle for the Sixers going forward, I will respectfully disagree. Sure, Evan Turner has the potential to vault the Sixers into legitimate contention, but in order for him to do so he's going to have to improve his game by an order of magnitude. He's going to need to develop skills that at this point just aren't there.

The same isn't true for Jrue Holiday. The Sixers don't need Jrue to remake himself. They don't need Jrue to build a reliable jump shot out of a broken one in order to fit with Andrew Bynum. Jrue Holiday already has the tools to be a great complement to Andrew Bynum.

Elevating his teammates

For all of Andrew Bynum's strengths, he's not (yet) the type of player whom you can dump the ball into the post and run your offense through. Not because he can't force that kind of attention from defenses but because he's not yet capable of taking advantage of that attention. Bynum doesn't have the passing talents or court awareness of Tim Duncan to truly make teams pay for doubling him. Might he improve? Certainly. But it's going to take some time.

So the Sixers will then have to find a way to use the attention Bynum receives to generate looks for teammates without Bynum being the one doing the passing. How? Jrue Holiday and the Andrew Bynum pick and roll.

This is an interesting proposition for somebody in Bynum who ran pick and roll sets roughly 3% of the time with the Lakers last season, but it's an area that I think has significant untapped potential for both Holiday and Bynum. The Lakers didn't run much pick and roll in and of itself, with a combination of offensive scheme and not having a great point guard to run it through.

But I think Jrue Holiday is an underrated passer from the pick and dive, having been held back by an overall lack of quality interior big men on the Sixers. With Bynum, the defense will have to pay attention to him as he dives to the hoop and that will open up all kinds of passing lanes for Holiday, not to mention open up the ability for Jrue to get his own offense at the basket more often.

Getting to the line

It's that last part that is the biggest question for Holiday going forward in my mind. Jrue is a good shooter off the pick and roll with shifty dribble hesitation moves. But he doesn't get to the line. At all.

According to mySynergySports, Jrue drew a foul on under 6% of his used possessions. That was lower than every other guard on the team. Only Nikola Vucevic, Lavoy Allen, Tony Battie and Craig Brackins had a lower percentage.

To put that in even more perspective, there were 40 players who used more than 1,000 possessions in the NBA last season. Jrue Holiday was 39th of the 40 in his ability to draw fouls.

It's then no surprise why Jrue Holiday was one of the least efficient players in the NBA last year (14th worst true shooting percentage among players that played more than 1500 minutes).

The good news is that Jrue Holiday was among the more efficient jump shooters in the league, and with Andrew Bynum now in the fold drawing attention down low that means Holiday should get more open looks, both on kick-outs from the attention Bynum receives and more spacing when coming off of pick and rolls as players shade to defend Bynum. But Jrue needs to deliver. Like Evan Turner, the excuses for Holiday have run out. Andre Iguodala and Louis Williams will not be here to be the primary perimeter focal points. This is Holiday and Evan Turner's show, and the team needs them to create from the perimeter, and get to the line.

Defensive potential?

One of the more interesting things to watch in Jrue's development this year will be on the defensive end. Jrue was already a good defender, but I've always felt he still had some untapped potential. I think Jrue has the potential to be an elite defensive point guard, but that was going to be tough without a legitimate shot blocking force behind him.

The Sixers now have that. I thought Holiday improved defending the pick and roll last year, although he still had periods where he would struggle mightily. Bynum isn't a terrific pick and roll defender himself, but with him now in the picture the Sixers might be able to get away with Thaddeus Young playing more minutes at power forward, and Young is a very good pick and roll defender.

But it's on defending isolations where Bynum's addition could give Jrue the most help. Jrue can now get away with applying more pressure on the perimeter than before because he has Bynum behind him to back him up. I think this fits perfectly into Holiday's defensive talents, and could be fun to watch.

Worst Case Scenario: 48% TS%, 13 points, 5 assists, 2.5 turnovers, 2.2 free throw attempts per game. Holiday and Bynum never mesh on the pick and roll, Holiday doesn't improve getting to the line, and Holiday being forced to create more puts him in more low-efficiency situations.

Best Case Scenario: 54% TS%, 18.5 points, 6.5 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 4.0 free throw attempts per game. Holiday and Bynum mesh on the pick and roll, and Holiday is able to take the next step toward becoming the teams second scorer and gets to the line with more regularity.

Reasonable: 52% TS%, 15 points, 5.5 assists, 2.5 turnovers, 3.0 free throw attempts per game. Holiday regains his second year form, with a slight increase in productivity mainly due to the the driving lanes opened up by Bynum allowing him to get to the line marginally more, and he takes an incremental step forward. With Jrue Holiday's upcoming extension, this may be the scariest scenario though, as it's good enough to give you hope but not good enough to ease fears completely.

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