Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jrue Holiday Is Making The Leap

Holiday With A D
Late in tonight's Sixers-Cavs game with the home team holding onto a small lead, Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, last year's rookie of the year and one of the ten best one on one players in the NBA, was trying to make things happen against his opposite number, Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday. Irving went into his rocking back and forth, cobra twitch fast rattle, pounding the rock between his legs, moving like a blur. And Holiday was matching him movement for movement, twitch for twitch, like something out of a kung fu movie, but faster and more athletic.

The Sixers crowd, one of the best in town in terms of knowing the sport they root for -- seriously, there aren't five better crowds in the NBA when it comes to recognizing good effort from an opponent, not disputing a correct call, and trying to pick up a game home team when they deserve it -- recognized it. And as the seconds ticked away, and it became increasingly apparent that Holiday had Irving, in this moment and on this play, dominated as much as a player can dominate in a sport where good offense always trumps good defense.

Irving wound up forcing the shot anyway, missing strong. The Sixers got the board, and eventually the win. And despite Evan Turner's outstanding game, another strong night from the resurgent Jason Richardson, and some fourth quarter magic from the perpetually bewildering Spencer Hawes, it was clear who the best player on the floor was: Holiday.

And here's the very cool thing about that: Holiday, despite now starting his fourth year in the Association, is just 22 years old. He's the first player born in the 1990s (gah) to play in the Association, and this year, he's posting 18/4/8 per game, all of which are career highs by leaps and bounds.

Now, it's not all skittles and beer; he's also turning it over nearly five times a game, hasn't showed up every night (this team gave Detroit it's only win last week, and Brandon Jennings ate his lunch earlier in the homestand as well), and occasionallyy makes you wonder, well, why the hell not. If he's the best player on this team, and if Andrew Bynum can't get his body in order and give them the quality big that they rolled the dice for, the only thing that Jrue is going to do is take a 42 win team up to 47, and to make their eventual obliteration by the Heat (or Knicks?) a little less complete.

But as the numbers show, he's starting to put it all together... and when he does that, he's just all kinds of useful, and maybe a championship caliber point guard. (It would also help if Hawes, Richardson, Turner and Bynum stay healthy and jell together. Really nice.)
But even if none of that happens?

I'll be happy enough, for a while, with the new Gary Payton in my laundry...

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