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Drafting and Developing Jrue Holiday: How Eddie Jordan Found a Diamond in the Rough

Four years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers were in a rebuilding stage after losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Orlando Magic. They were also trying to find a solution to their point guard problems after losing Andre Miller to free agency. They brought in Eddie Jordan as their new head coach, went with Lou Williams as their starting point guard, and installed the Princeton Offense into their playbook. In that summer’s NBA Draft, the Sixers decided to take UCLA point guard Jrue Holiday with the 17th overall pick.

Holiday as a rookie (via SBNation).

The 2009-10 NBA season came and the Sixers were very quickly in a hole too deep to recover from. After a 3-2 start, the Sixers lost 16 of their next 18 games and had a record of 5-18 through 23 games. Eddie Jordan, who saw a mortal flaw in the Sixers offense and defense when the losing started, knew that the mistake he made would cost the Sixers their season, and probably his job.

But he also found a “blood diamond in the rough”. One day, Coach Jordan saw his rookie working hard in practice. He was running the plays well, playing good enough defense, responding to the defense as an offensive player, and was doing an overall good job in limited playing time.

In a game against the Washington Wizards, the Sixers gave up a forty-point third quarter. Down ten points in the fourth quarter, Coach Jordan gave Holiday some time. In his ten minutes, Holiday made 3 three- pointers and sparked the Sixers to a comeback. Even though they lost when Lou Williams missed a jumper at the buzzer, this game essentially started Jrue Holiday’s rise to stardom. The next day, Jrue got his first career start at point guard. He had ten points, six assists, and three rebounds in thirty-four minutes in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Holiday against the Knicks (via Arkansas Gazette).

At this point, it was clear that Eddie Jordan had his point guard of the future. He also knew that the season was over for Philadelphia. So, why not introduce the rookie to the NBA, he thought. Jrue Holiday played in 73 of the Sixers’ 82 games that season, starting 51 of them. In a season where the Sixers went 27-55 (missing the playoffs), the rookie averaged eight points, four assists, and three rebounds per game.

If Eddie Jordan had not given Jrue Holiday a chance in that wasted season, Jrue may not have gotten used to the NBA as a rookie, he may not have flourished as a young star, and he may not have learned the NBA game. Some of the best players of this time flourished at a young age. Jrue Holiday may not have been an All-Star this year if he hadn’t gotten that valuable experience playing under Jordan which helped him evolve over the next three seasons.

He is a top ten point guard in the league, an NBA All-Star, and easily the Sixers’ best player. He has averaged career highs in points (19.4), assists (8.9), and rebounds (4.2) and scored a career high 35 points Saturday night against the Knicks.

Holiday helped lead the Sixers back into the playoffs in his sophomore season. Last year, he did the same. This year, he is proving that he is a great player. Jrue is the top scorer on the team, a first-class distributer, and the obvious leader. Without Holiday, the Sixers would not be where they were the past two years and might be last in the Eastern Conference this year.

In his one season at the head coaching spot, Eddie Jordan found a diamond in the rough. And that diamond’s name is Jrue Randall Holiday, a 6 ft. 4 in., 2o5  lb point guard out of UCLA.

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Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: 76ers, Editorial

Author:Austin Krell

Sixers beat writer and NBA analyst

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