Sixers player evaluation: Jrue Holiday

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Sixers player evaluation: Jrue Holiday

Note: Over the next couple of weeks we will recap the Sixers’ season by evaluating each member of the roster.

Jrue Holiday

Position: Point guard

Status: Headed into the first year of a four-year, $41 million contract extension

Signature game of 2012-13
Holiday scored on a layup with 1.1 seconds left in the Jan. 18 game against the Toronto Raptors at the Wells Fargo Center to force overtime and lead the Sixers back from a 19-point deficit. In overtime, Holiday scored all 12 of the Sixers’ points in a 108-101 victory to cap off a 33-point, 14-assist effort.

From Jan. 18:
There hasn’t been much Jrue Holiday hasn’t shown during his breakout, All-Star caliber season. In fact, there aren’t too many folks around the NBA who aren’t aware of the Sixers’ point guard’s talent.

“Everybody knows how good Jrue Holiday is,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said.

In Friday night’s 108-101 comeback victory over the Toronto Raptors in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center, Holiday put his entire game on display and made his best case for an All-Star bid.

Holiday tied a career-high with 33 points on 13-for-23 shooting to go with 14 assists to lead the Sixers back from a 19-point second-half deficit. Better yet, it was Holiday’s layup with 1.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter to force overtime and give the Sixers their first share of the lead all game.

However, he saved the real fireworks for overtime.

In the extra frame, Holiday scored all 12 of the Sixers’ points, converting on a three-pointer and three foul shots as they rolled to just their second win of the season when trailing after three quarters.

Holiday in 2012-13
It was the quintessential breakout year that many predicted for Holiday. On opening night, Holiday signed a four-year contract extension, he earned his first All-Star berth and at age 22, became an undisputed leader of the Sixers.

There’s more: Holiday was fourth in the NBA in assists with eight per game and 10th in minutes per game with nearly 38.

There were also some learning experiences for Holiday, too. He was second in the league with 3.7 turnovers per game, and by the end of the season, Holiday admitted he was fatigued. Chalk it up to all those minutes, the demanding position of point guard and the added responsibility taken on as the team captain.

Prospectus
After four years in the NBA, Holiday is only 22. He has improved every season he’s been in the league and the Sixers are expecting even more improvement from their All-Star. Not only was Holiday signed to a four-year extension that begins in 2013-14, but also Holiday will be the player the team builds around headed into the future.

“I think if you talk to Jrue, he’ll tell you he needs to work on his stamina and the mental toughness of going through the entire season,” coach Doug Collins said last week. “He told me the other day that after the All-Star break he hasn’t played as well. Playing all 82 and the demands of that position, the sky is still the limit for him.”

On Jrue Holiday
“I like him because he’s a big guard and he plays at his own tempo. A lot of guards get going too fast and they speed up, but Jrue plays at his own speed. He can get into the paint and he has that nice little shot over the smaller guards.”

-- Dorell Wright, Oct. 20, 2012

“When he’s not in the game you can feel it because the ball doesn’t move around as much. He’s our distributor and he’s the one who makes the plays. Sometimes the offense becomes stagnant without Jrue in the game.”

-- Thad Young, Nov. 25, 2012

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Nerlens Noel’s recent comments on the logjam of big men on the Sixers' roster did not come as news to head coach Brett Brown. While Noel had not been this publicly outspoken on the issue, he and Brown have been having open discussions about it. 

“I have been talking to Nerlens a lot and I have a fondness for him,” Brown said Tuesday on the first day of training camp. “I don’t begrudge Nerlens Noel at all for what he said. I don’t have any problems with it.”

The Sixers' crowded frontcourt this season is a continuation of last season’s conundrum in which Brown was tasked with playing Noel and Jahlil Okafor, two natural centers, together. The depth has increased with the return of Joel Embiid and additions of Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. 

So when Noel doubled down on Monday by saying, "I don't see a way it can work,” Brown recognized where the center's opinions were coming from as he enters his fourth season in the NBA. 

“I feel if we do anything well, we communicate with our players freely,” Brown said. “It is one hundred percent transparent — hard conversations ahead, easy conversations ahead. I have spoken with Nerlens about this a lot. 

“My messaging and my mood and attitude and things that come out of my mouth haven’t changed once. I feel very confident that I’m giving him the advice that he should hear from me and it still allows me to do my job. 

“We have talked about it freely, like I have talked about it with Jahlil and Joel. Those situations are part of pro sports. They’re ever-present with me and us right now.”

Noel has been a rare mainstay among a revolving door of players over the past three years. He is in a unique situation with Brown in that the two have experienced a long list of the team’s ups and downs together. Noel feels comfortable talking honestly with Brown about his viewpoints. 

“I’ve known Brett probably longer than most guys here and we’ve built a different type of relationship,” Noel said. “It’s been very front and forward and we talk and we keep it real. That’s what he’s been doing with me and that’s why I’m able to continue to talk to him about myself and him just telling me what position I’ll be in — he’ll try to put me in — to succeed.”

With Brown having an understanding of Noel, his focus is on what Noel can bring to the team this season. He believes Noel has an edge over Embiid and Okafor for minutes early on because Noel is the only one among the trio starting camp without restrictions from previous injuries. 

There is a tough competition for playing time among the bigs, and camp is about proving oneself through basketball, not through personal opinions. Brown was impressed on the first day of camp by the manner in which Noel approached the morning practice amid the comments.

“He has handled it with me and in the training session today like a pro,” Brown said. “He came to mean it. He didn’t back down at all. There was no moping or sulking or him being stubborn. He played. That’s what he has to do. I think that’s a real reflection of anybody of how you handle adversity. Today he handled it like a true pro and a true competitor.”

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.