BOSTON – Just when you might’ve thought Boston's roster was set for training camp, the Celtics dropped another trade bomb on the NBA.
On Sunday afternoon, they added another All-Star, a five-time All-Defensive guard, and one of the best teammates in the NBA: Jrue Holiday is officially a Celtic.
Holiday was initially dealt Wednesday by the Milwaukee Bucks as the key piece in their trade package for Damian Lillard. Pairing Lillard alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo – the league’s top two scorers over the past five seasons – instantly made the Bucks a more significant threat in the East.
So what did the Celtics do? They responded in a matter of four days by taking Holiday off Portland’s hands in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon, Rob Williams, and two future first-round draft picks.
“We are excited to see Jrue in a Celtics uniform,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens. “He plays the game with a great competitive character and his impact on and off the court has been felt everywhere throughout his career. We are overjoyed to welcome Jrue, (his wife) Lauren, and the entire Holiday family to Boston.”
The 14-year veteran is coming off one of his best seasons after averaging 19.3 points, 7.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game, making 158 3-pointers at a 38.4 percent clip, and leading the Bucks to a league-best 58-24 record. He was named to his second All-Star game and earned his fifth consecutive All-Defensive nod – his third as a member of the First Team.
The Celtics now have three All-Stars from last season: Holiday, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. And that’s not even including Kristaps Porzingis who put up All-Star-caliber averages of 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. They also have another All-Defensive guard in Derrick White along with the best shooting big man in the league, Al Horford, who has made five All-Star games of his own.
Try naming a better top-six in the league. You can’t.
After losing Marcus Smart earlier in the summer via the Porzingis trade, Boston lost some of its defensive prowess on the perimeter. However, Holiday should bring that right back. His presence alongside White should create one of the most dominant defensive backcourt duos in the league.
On the offensive end, there’s not much Holiday can’t do. During his three seasons in Milwaukee, the 6-foot-3 guard shot 49.4 percent from the field, 39.5 percent from 3-point range, and 80.3 percent from the free-throw line. Those percentages could go up even more in Boston considering the spacing he’ll experience while playing alongside the Jays and the rest of the team's sharpshooters.
On top of his scoring, Holiday will make his teammates’ lives easier, serving as an elite distributor. His assist percentage of 32.1 was the eighth-highest mark in the league among players who played in at least 65 games. The highest mark among Celtics players who fit that criterion was Brogdon at 22.3 percent.
Holiday will also make his teammates’ lives better off the court. He is arguably the most well-liked player in the league, having won the Twyman-Stokes Teammates of the Year Award in three of the past four seasons. No other player has ever won the award more than once. He's also the only player on the team with championship experience, being just two years removed from a title with the Bucks.
The addition of Holiday is a win for the Celtics all-around. By going out and getting him just before the start of the season, the organization is making a statement that they are all-in on their pursuit of Banner 18 right now. Their journey begins two days from now on Day 1 of Training Camp.