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

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

WAYNE, Pa. — Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q&A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber.