2013-14 Season in Review: Jrue Holiday

Pelicans.com continues its look back at the 2013-14 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

NBA experience: Five seasons (one with Pelicans)
Games played/started: 34/34

2013-14 OVERVIEW

It says all you need to know about the New Orleans Pelicans’ injury luck in 2013-14 that their biggest offseason move consisted of acquiring one of the NBA’s most durable players – but even he ended up being sidelined for 48 games.

On draft night 2013, the Pelicans swung a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers for All-Star point guard Holiday, a deal that also included point guard Pierre Jackson. In exchange, Philadelphia gained a 2013 lottery pick it used on Nerlens Noel, as well as a top-five protected 2014 first-round pick. The Pelicans still have a chance to retain that ’14 pick, but they must move into the top three at the upcoming May 20 draft lottery. Otherwise, the draft choice will be conveyed to the 76ers, who would then pick somewhere between 10th and 13th (depending on the lottery results). New Orleans has 4.0 percent odds of moving into the top three spots.

Holiday entered 2013-14 having played in 243 of 248 possible games (98.0 percent) over the previous three seasons, including Philadelphia’s trips to the playoffs in 2011 and 2012. He started all 82 games during the 2010-11 regular season and missed only one contest during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.

The UCLA product continued his impressive run of always being on the floor through New Orleans’ first 34 games and enjoyed several big nights, but his performance inexplicably dipped from Jan. 3-8. Over a four-game span, Holiday shot just 11-for-37 from the field (29.7 percent) and committed a dozen turnovers. On Jan. 10, it became much clearer why Holiday was performing poorly: He’d developed a stress fracture in his right tibia, but had been trying to play through it. He underwent successful surgery Feb. 28 and was forced to miss the rest of 2013-14, the first time in his NBA career he’s had a long-term injury.

The Pelicans had climbed to within a game of .500 by Jan. 3, but Holiday’s absence was a crushing blow, contributing to an eight-game losing streak that dropped them to 15-24 on Jan. 18. The closest New Orleans got to .500 the rest of the way was 22-27.

“I thought we took a step back losing Jrue,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said of his team’s defense. “His ability to guard the ball really helped our defense to start the season. When we didn’t have him, you saw our blocked shots go up, because we were dealing with so many blow-bys.”

Holiday’s return to the court next season will be greatly welcomed by Pelicans coaches and his teammates, who benefited from his passing. Although he didn’t play in enough games to officially qualify, Holiday finished eighth in the NBA with an assist average of 7.9. New Orleans went 19-29 over the final three-plus months of 2013-14 without their starting floor leader.

#3: Dec. 2, 2013 – New Orleans at Chicago
With 2.6 seconds remaining in triple overtime, Holiday authored one of the indelible images of the Pelicans’ season, converting a three-point point play over Chicago defender Taj Gibson on an aggressive drive through the middle of the paint. Holiday’s old-school three gave New Orleans a 131-128 victory and capped his 19-point, 12-assist, eight-rebound game.

#2: Nov. 29, 2013 – New Orleans at Philadelphia
In the first trip back to the City of Brotherly Love, where he’d spent each of the previous four seasons of his NBA career, Holiday notched his first 20-10 game as a Pelican, featuring 20 points and 13 assists. The high-powered New Orleans attack rang up 121 points in blowing out the 76ers for a second time in two weeks. Holiday also had seven rebounds, nearly collecting a triple-double.

#1: Dec. 30, 2013 – Portland at New Orleans
The Pelicans pulled out an exciting 110-108 upset over the playoff-bound Trail Blazers, sealing the win on Tyreke Evans’ mid-range wing jumper with a second remaining. Holiday put New Orleans in position to knock off Portland with a standout offensive performance, including a season-best 31 points, along with 13 assists and seven boards. Holiday was unstoppable in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of his team’s 21 points.

Dec. 2 at Bulls

Nov. 29 vs. 76ers

Dec. 30 vs. Blazers