The New Orleans Pelicans returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-15 season after winning 48 games. They seemed to play better after All-Star DeMarcus Cousins went down with a torn Achilles. Anthony Davis got most of the attention; rightfully so but all eyes should be on Jrue Holiday this season.
It was Holiday’s first healthy season with the Pelicans. Since arriving on the Pelicans before the 2013-14 season Holiday failed to play 70 games and this past season he played in 81 games. With all the big time guard play in the Western Conference Holiday was overshadowed most of the season.
That didn’t stop him from having a career year across the board. He averaged 19 ppg (career high), dished out 6 apg and grabbed 4.5 rpg while shooting 49% from the field (career high). He shot just 33% from 3-point range which is below his career average but he did hit a career high 120 3-pointers. Holiday had a good offensive season and an even better defensive season. He made All-Defensive 1st team for the first time in his career.
Casual fans didn’t take notice of Holiday until the playoffs started. He raised his game to All-Star levels as the Pelicans shocked the basketball world with a sweep on the 3rd seed Portland Trail-Blazers. Many expected that series to be a good battle and probably a six or seven game series. The Pelicans had other plans as they picked the Blazers apart. Yes, Anthony Davis was spectacular in every sense of the word but Jrue Holiday outplayed both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He averaged 27 ppg, shot 56% from the field and dropped 41 points in the close out game.
After that series people started becoming Holiday fans. A big question heading into the season is can he do it again? Holiday always had the potential to be this good of a player but he’s been injured. After making the All-Star team in Philadelphia he was traded to New Orleans and played just 34 games. Each year there was something different so Holiday has yet to put up back-to-back good seasons.
Rajon Rondo is no longer there to help with the ball handling duties. DeMarcus Cousins is no longer there to get him more space or set a great screen. There will be even more pressure on Holiday to deliver after his impressive playoff performance. He’s a top tier guard defender who has figured things out on the offensive side of things. The Pelicans can make another playoff run if he can stay healthy again.