As New Orleans’ third-leading scorer (21.2 ppg), leader in assists (7.7 apg) and best individual defender (1.6 spg), Holiday again provided a do-everything presence for the Pelicans
2018-19 SEASON STATS
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As New Orleans’ third-leading scorer (21.2 ppg), leader in assists (7.7 apg) and best individual defender (1.6 spg), Holiday again provided a do-everything presence for the Pelicans, but he also delivered numerous, invaluable off-court intangibles. Amid the constant distractions stemming from Anthony Davis’ Jan. 28 public trade request, Holiday was a leader by example and mentor for several of the team’s inexperienced young players, such as rookie Frank Jackson. Despite unprecedented in-season upheaval, New Orleans remained very competitive, at least until Holiday was sidelined by a core muscle injury in early March. The Pelicans went 7-6 in the final 13 games Holiday played, highlighted by a home win over Oklahoma City, as well as consecutive comeback victories in Denver and Utah.
“I had fun playing with my teammates,” Holiday said. “We battled every night – maybe there were two Orlando games where we didn’t show that – but other than that, I think we battled every night.”
The same can always be said for Holiday, who made his case for a second straight appearance on the league’s First-Team All-Defense by containing many of the NBA’s best scorers. Alvin Gentry often said no team asks more from a player than the Pelicans do of Holiday, but the shooting guard keeps demonstrating the ability to contribute in so many ways. Prior to Holiday’s late-season injury, he had a stretch of appearing in 148 of a possible 149 regular season games (it was 157 of 158 if you add the ’18 playoffs). Health has been a major reason Holiday’s most recent seasons in the Crescent City have been his two best since joining the Pelicans in a June ’13 trade.
“I feel good. I feel healthy, some of the healthiest I’ve been in my career,” he said. “I think that was a big part of it, not having to worry about minute restrictions or that injuries are still bothering me. Mentally, that goes out the window. I had family issues (early in the ’16-17 season) – that’s behind me. I feel like I can really focus on basketball, especially the last two years. It’s been fun playing – hopefully I show it. I know sometimes I’m a little calm and collected, (but) I like playing here, I love my teammates.”
During his April 10 season-ending media session, Holiday noted that he’s looking forward to seeing how this summer unfolds for New Orleans, which will have a lottery pick and an opportunity to make major additions to its roster. Although it’s impossible to predict exactly how the roster will look a few months from now, Holiday remains optimistic about the Pelicans’ future.
“The first thing is the attitude, and you can speak things into existence,” Holiday said. “Having that positive energy and that goal at the beginning of next year is very important. We have players who’ve been to the playoffs, and guys who are hungry.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Holiday’s ranking by fellow NBA players in a poll by The Athletic, which asked “Who is the most underrated player in the league?” Holiday received 16.3 percent of the vote; Portland’s Damian Lillard and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton tied for second place at 6.8 percent apiece.
Holiday’s ranking among all NBA players in minutes per game this season (35.9). Only Bradley Beal, Paul George, James Harden and Russell Westbrook shouldered a bigger load than Holiday.
New Orleans record when Holiday did not play in the final 15 games of ’18-19. The Pelicans were 30-37 with him in uniform.
Top 50 Jrue Holiday Photos from the Pelicans 2018-19 Season VIEW GALLERY