Jrue Holiday was supposed to be long gone by the time the 76ers selected with the 17th pick of the NBA Draft. At one point, Holiday was rumored to be in contention with the Sacramento Kings at the 4th spot of the Draft. But as tonight's draft progressed, Holiday's name went uncalled and as each pick passed he remained the highest-rated player remaining on the board.
Luckily for the Sixers, the highest-rated player left was also a point guard, a position the Sixers needed to fill.
Holiday will be in Philly tomorrow -- Friday -- at 1 p.m. for a press conference at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
We've spent weeks leading up to this draft looking at UNC's Ty Lawson and VCU's Eric Maynor as well as UNC's Wayne Ellington -- mostly because Holiday was projected, by nearly everyone, to be off the board.
Why did he slip?
For one, he is 19 years old and played one less-than-stellar season at UCLA, averaging only 8.5 points and game and shooting 30.7 percent from the three-point line. For another, there was some concern over an injury that might have scared a few teams away. Tonight, Stefanski said Holiday might have fallen because he was No. 2 on a number of teams' lists. In that one season at UCLA, Holiday played out of position at shooting guard. Word is that Holiday, one of the top high school player in the country coming out of high school, went to UCLA thinking Bruins point guard Darren Collison was leaving for the NBA. Collison stayed in school and Holiday was forced to play out of position.
It's all speculation, but what matters is: What is Holiday's game? Will he play right away? Could he start if Andre Miller doesn't re-sign?
Only minutes after Holiday was selected, assistant GM Tony DiLeo said the Sixers did not expect Holiday to make an impact this coming season. A few minutes later, on a conference call from Madison Square Garden, Holiday said he disagreed with that, saying he expects to contribute right away.
Of course he does.
We could go on for 1,000 words about Lawson's game, but Holiday remains a little more unknown. What we do know is that Holiday has the size -- 6-foot-4 with a 6-7 wingspan -- to be a dominant point guard, although he didn't have a chance to show GMs his point guard skills at UCLA.
Holiday's strengths appear to be his versatility, his court vision, and his ability to execute, especially off the pick-and-roll. He doesn't seem to be a guy with explosive athleticism and game-changing skills in transition (like Ty Lawson), but as far as strong point guard skills and upside (let's keep in mind this kid is 19), Holiday has plenty of that.
Tonight, Stefanski spoke about Holiday. Reading between the lines, it sounded like Stefanski didn't think Holiday would come in right away and earn all kinds of playing time, but he did say he was impressed with Holiday's defensive abilities and added that defense might be a way for Holiday to find some playing time.
The knocks on Holiday are that he is unproven (and this is very true, with what was seen at UCLA), that he doesn't have a go-to scoring mentality (although that might not be a bad thing on a Sixers roster filled with guys who think they are go-to scorers), that his outside shot needs work (although I heard from a number of people that his form is textbook and he just needs more repetition), and that he has average athleticism and explosiveness (sounds like another Sixers point guard we know well...).
All in all, the Sixers stole one tonight at the 17th spot. It was the 17th spot in a weak draft and they got lottery-pick talent. Going forward, I think it's a stretch to think Holiday will get much playing time this coming season. If the Sixers don't re-sign Andre Miller (free agency opens July 1), expect the Sixers to sign a veteran point guard with the mid-level exception they have. Considering nine point guards were chosen in the first 21 picks (or right around there), there will be a number of solid point guards looking for jobs this summer.