It seems less and less likely that Petrie is considering Jrue Holiday at #4 so this may be a bit overdue…but I figured I would post for those who want a bit more insight into Holiday.
A number of draft experts have compared Holiday to Russell Westbrook. To me, that’s a completely lazy comparison. Oh, you mean both players went to UCLA, both are considered to be combo guards, and both are coming out early…they must be the same! Um, no. Holiday and Westbrook are completely different players and I’m about to lay out why...
I’ve been a season ticket holder to UCLA hoops for several years…and I attended almost every game prior to that when I was a student. I’ve seen just about every game under both Ben Howland and Steve Lavin…so hopefully I can provide a fairly accurate comparison between Holiday and Westbrook. Let's get to it:
One significant difference between the two is timing. Westbrook came out after his sophomore year…Holiday after his freshman year. If you look solely at their production during their first year at UCLA, Holiday far out-performed Westbrook. I know Holiday’s stats aren’t all that appealing but Westbrook rarely got off the bench during his first year. And when he did, he played out of control. Bad shots, lots of turnovers, and usually a quick return-trip to the bench. Holiday, on the other hand, started from day one. He never truly stood out like a few other freshman have under Howland (Farmar, Love, Ariza)…but he played solid basketball for the most part. The bottom line with a Howland coached team is that offensive players will very rarely have impressive offensive statistics (he plays a slow-down defensive game and he’s got a quick hook)…and that is especially the case with freshman guards. Edge: Holiday.
No contest here. Jrue is not the most athletic guy in the world and he has his limitations. Westbrook is extremely athletic (interesting side note: Westbrook actually couldn’t dunk until his senior year in high school…he’s the definition of a late-bloomer). Significant edge: Westbrook
As mentioned above, Westbrook often played fairly out of control as a freshman. He lost a majority of that his sophomore season but his ball-handling still remained a bit suspect at times. Holiday, on the other hand, was unusually steady for a freshman with the ball in his hands. I don’t have his stats in front of me so I’m not sure what his turnover/assist ratio was but I rarely saw Holiday make dumb turnovers. That being said, he never made the spectacular plays that Westbrook was capable of. One more thing to consider here…Holiday was a point guard before coming to UCLA, Westbrook was a two-guard in high school. Make no mistake, Holiday is not a combo-guard…he’s a point guard. Howland just wasn’t going to play him there over Collison. Edge: Holiday…but realize you’re not getting a lot of flash with him.
Neither spent a lot of time at UCLA on the perimeter. Lots of drives/slashing for both. Between the two though, Holiday has a more pure stroke. With enough repetitions, it seems that he has the potential to become a solid shooter. I don’t know if I can say the same for Westbrook. Edge: Holiday.
Holiday is very quiet by nature. Rarely did I see him interact with teammates…and almost never did I see him instruct teammates (especially those older than him) what/where they should be on the court. From everything I have heard about Holiday, he is fairly shy and also very humble. Westbrook was fairly quiet his freshman season too...but he became a fiery, emotional leader during his sophomore season. He didn’t shy away from getting in his teammates face and was prone to some rather primal outbursts after big plays/dunks. Teammates were drawn to Westbrook…can’t say the same for Jrue. Edge: Westbrook.
Pretty much a wash here. Westbrook recorded a few more steals…but he also took more risks on the defensive end. Holiday was less risky (hence fewer steals) but he also stayed in front of his man more often than Westbrook. Both guys were typically assigned the opposition’s top perimeter player. Edge: Push.
If there is one area that Holiday’s game has a bit of spark to it, this is it. He might not be in Rubio’s category in terms of the “holy crap, did he just do that?” pass…but he typically had one or two plays per game that surprised me. When I look at Holiday’s game, I see a steady performer who doesn’t really get you excited but he doesn’t disappoint you either. But I typically saw something different when he had the opportunity to run the point. He transformed from a two-guard who couldn’t really shoot to a pass-first point guard who was capable of making some fairly impressive plays. People complain about Holiday’s stats but imagine if Jason Kidd played the two during his hey-day. What would his stats have looked like? Not all that great I'm guessing. But I digress...back to the comparison, Westbrook always looked for his shot first, whether he was playing the one or the two. That’s not to say he wasn’t capable of making a spectacular pass or two but I always saw him more in the Arenas mold. Edge: Holiday.
As mentioned above, I really don’t think the comparison between Westbrook and Holiday is an accurate one. The two are completely different players. If you’re looking for an accurate comparison for Holiday, think Andre Miller in his prime. A pass-first point guard, who plays good defense, gives you some decent scoring, and will never be considered an elite athlete. He’ll never give you problems in the locker room or the community, he’ll probably be your point guard for the next ten years…but he might not ever make an All-Star game. He will be the definition of steady.
The big BUT for me here is that I never really saw Jrue given the opportunity to truly run a team. Maybe he’ll have more star quality than I’m giving him credit for when he gets that chance. Maybe he’d be a top-three pick this year if he was given that opportunity. I’m not sure. But I know for a fact that he would be picked higher next year if he returned to school. Howland players (especially point guards) typically make a huge leap between their freshman and sophomore seasons so I think that should be taken into account when/if Holiday is selected by the Kings. The kid has talent…maybe it’s not spectacular talent but I think he’ll be a solid pro when all is said and done.
The question is…will the Kings be okay with steady at #4? Or will they be lured by the potential star-power of Rubio and/or Jennings? From my point of view, I'd put Holiday behind Rubio and Jennings...and maybe even Evans and Curry. That's not a knock on Jrue; but the Kings have enough steady players in my opinion. The NBA is a league built around stars and the Kings need a few. I won't be upset if the Kings take Holiday, but I also won't be upset if they take a gigantic swing at a star that ends up being a bust.