Prospect Preview: Aaron Holiday

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

AARON HOLIDAY, G, UCLA
Class: Junior
Ht: 6-foot-1
Wt: 185 pounds
2017-18 Stats: 20.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.7 rpg

HOW HE OPERATES

The pedigree stands out. Aaron Holiday, the high-flying point guard out of UCLA, has two brothers – Jrue and Justin – currently in the NBA. And there a lot of aspects to Aaron Holiday’s game that look NBA-esque as well. Holiday had a standout junior season that ended with him being named to the All-Pac 12 team and the All-Pac 12 Defensive Team.

He was the first UCLA player to lead the Pac-12 in scoring since Reggie Miller in 1985-86. He was also UCLA's first player to average at least 20 points per game in a full season since Ed O'Bannon averaged 20.4 in 1994-95.

So, you don’t have to guess if he has an NBA-sized ability to score. He does. And he gets it done in a fast and very athletic package. Holiday shoots the ball with accuracy all over the court and can knock down deep 3-pointers. He made 42 percent of his shots from beyond the arc during the season, making him one of the very best long-range shooters in the draft. And he was consistent his entire college career from the 3-point line, averaging 42.2 percent for his career, and never having a season worse than 41.1 percent. He is a big-time long range shot maker.

Beyond that, Holiday is well-schooled pick-and-roll offense, which UCLA ran a ton of during the season. He was great in transition, making 55.7 percent of his shots in those situations. About the only thing that was of any concern with Holiday on the offensive end was a penchant to turn the ball over. He averaged 3.8 turnovers per game. Holiday did not shoot a high percentage in pull-up jumper attempts – just 29 percent during the season. NBA scouts wonder how well he can get his shot off against a league full of taller players, and he did rely upon constant screening action to free him up for clean looks at UCLA. But he can also break a defender down and get the look he wants.

Defensively, Holiday displayed effort. He did an adequate job getting through screens, and was good guarding in space. He’s got quick feet, and that helped laterally in a Pac-12 conference full of smallish, extremely quick guards. He can still improve on that end. A 6-7 wingspan should help him contest shots well in the NBA, yet there will still be many situations where taller players simply shoot over him. Holiday has the ability to get steals in bunches, and with quick hands and good instincts in getting passing lane thefts, he’ll continue to excel in that area.

HIS BEST FIT

Aaron Holiday’s best fit is with a team that could use some instant scoring out of the backcourt. An up-tempo team that has shot-blocking behind him would be an ideal fit for Holiday, who thrives in transition.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter

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