Bulls Season Rewind 17-18: Justin Holiday
Justin Holiday Season Averages:
Justin Holiday returned to Chicago this past offseason after spending a year in New York (following a half season with the Bulls in 2015-16) and immediately found himself thrust into a new role - veteran leader. The 29-year old was the experienced voice of the team this season, having spent five previous years in the league, including on as a member of the 2015 NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Holiday proved to be a steady presence on and off the court as he averaged career highs in every relevant statistical category and led the team in three pointers. His professionalism rubbed off on his teammates throughout the year, in good times and in rougher ones, and he continued to be a steadying presence throughout the year even as he managed a heavy minutes load. In the latter part of the season, the Bulls sat Holiday and fellow vet Robin Lopez down the stretch in favor of seeing what younger players had to offer, but Holiday remained positive, engaged and an ultimate team player.
Let’s take a look at some of Holiday’s top performances this season:
November 17, AT Charlotte Hornets (Bulls 123, Hornets 120)
With an array of new faces, rookies, suspensions and injuries, the Bulls season got off to a rocky start as they attempted to find their groove and how they wanted to play. One consistency in the beginning of the season was the performance of Holiday, as he stepped up to shoulder the scoring load. His skills were on display on this night in Charlotte, as the Bulls took a much-needed win from the Hornets behind a great scoring performance from Holiday. The Bulls were able to overcome a huge night from Hornets star Kemba Walker (who scored 47 points) behind a big night from Holiday and a major 4th-quarter run that won them the game.
Holiday poured in a season-high 27 points on the night, including four long-range bombs, in 35 minutes on the floor.
Holiday Stat Line: 27 points (10-15 FG), 4-7 3PT, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block
January 15, VS Miami Heat (Bulls 119, Heat 111)
At this point in mid-January, the Bulls had truly turned their season around, finding the way they wanted to play and starting to put wins on the board. In a game in which the Bulls led throughout against the playoff-bound Heat, it was Holiday who kept his foot on the gas and kept the Heat at bay every time they tried to make a run. Holiday did his damage from behind the arc, hitting a ridiculous 7 three pointers (of his 8 field goals, 7 of them came from distance) and providing a sound defensive presence to help the Bulls take a January win over Miami.
Holiday stat line: 25 points (8-15 FG), 7-11 3PT, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block
November 4, VS New Orleans Pelicans (Pelicans 96, Bulls 90)
The Bulls played a pair of close games against New Orleans this season, including a 2OT thriller in New Orleans. This game, the first meeting between the two teams, saw the Bulls fight tooth and nail behind the leadership of Holiday and though they took the loss, after the game Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins called the Bulls “the hardest playing team in the league”.
A lot of that had to do with Holiday, and he was all over the floor in this one. Though it wasn’t his best shooting night of the year, he led the team in scoring with 18 points, and it’s the other things he did on the court that turned heads on this day. He set up teammates, caused deflections on defense (ending up with 3 steals) and fought for rebounds, nearly putting up a double double. A strong effort for a team in the early season that needed it.
Holiday stat line: 18 points (7-20 FG), 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, 1 block