Featured Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NBAE/Getty Images
The Pelicans signed Jrue Holiday to a 5-year, $126 million contract last summer.
But after an impressive first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, all those doubts should be put to rest.
In the Pelicans’ first-round sweep of the Blazers, Holiday averaged 27.8 points on 56.8 percent shooting from the field to go along with 4.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists. His performance was further accentuated by a playoff career-high 41 points (on 15-23 shooting) in the closeout Game 4.
Holiday and superstar big man Anthony Davis combined to score 88 points in Game 4. That tied the NBA Playoff record for most points combined between two teammates.
Anthony Davis & Jrue Holiday combined for 88 points in Game 4. Entering today, in NBA History, only one duo had combined for 88 (or more) points in an #NBAPlayoff game: Jo Jo White (34 points) and John Havlicek (54 points) on 4/1/73. pic.twitter.com/DX3W7i4U6i
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) April 22, 2018
Perhaps more impressive, however, was Holiday’s production on the defensive end. As Damian Lillard’s primary defender, Holiday held Lillard to just 18.5 points per game on 35.2 percent shooting from the field in the series. Those averages pale in comparison to Lillard’s 26.9 points on 43.9 percent shooting during the regular season.
Since being traded to the Pelicans during the 2013 offseason, Holiday was perceived as a solid, but oft-injured point guard. Through his first three seasons with the team, Holiday missed a total of 107 games, largely due to various leg injuries. Over the past two seasons, however, Holiday has seemingly left those injuries in the past.
After the offseason signing of Rajon Rondo, Holiday moved to the shooting guard position. He responded by playing 81 games and averaging a career-high 19.0 points on a career-high 49.4 percent field goal percentage during the regular season. Furthermore, he established himself as one of the premier defensive guards in the entire NBA.
So Holiday’s first-round performance shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. He’s been producing and playing high-level two-way basketball all year. It’s just now being done on a bigger stage.
The Pelicans are now resting up as they prepare for a likely second-round matchup against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. This is a rematch of the 2015 first-round playoff series where the Warriors swept the Pelicans. Holiday struggled mightily in that series as lingering injuries impacted his production in all three of the four games he played.
Three years later, Holiday is healthier and is a much better player than he was then. While Davis will deservedly get the bulk of the credit for the success of this Pelicans team, Holiday is surely proving his worth to the franchise.
Still just 27 years old and in the first year of his new contract, Holiday is earning every penny. He may just be getting started.