The 76ers got the point guard they wanted Thursday night when the selected UCLA’s Jrue Holiday with the 17th overall pick in the draft -- or so they want you to think.
The Sixers got a steal if you paid attention to pre-draft boards, which almost all had Holiday well gone before the Sixers mid-round pick. It was a suprise that the Sixers got Jrue (pronounced Drew).
But, was Holiday really the true point the Sixers need to (likely) replace Andre Miller? He sure seemed to think so and so did the team despite the fact that Holiday mostly played at shooting guard during his only collegiate season.
“I think people didn't really see his point guard skills at UCLA," Sixers Vice President Tony DiLeo said. "He wants to play point guard. He wants to make people around him better."
Well it’s nice that Holiday wanted to play the point -- got that out of the way. But, the question remained -- can he?
He didn’t prove much of his ball handling skills at UCLA. He averaged a respectable 1.72 assist-to-turnover ratio in 35 games. But, his career high for assists in a game was an unspectacular seven -- a mark he hit three times including in the NCAA Tournament against Villanova.
So, if Holiday wasn’t distributing the ball was he at least creating his own shot and scoring like a Steve Nash does when he needs to? The answer was not really.
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The 6-foot-4 guard only broke double digits 40 percent of the time. And, he only scored 20 once -- in a Bruins blowout of lowly Florida International early in the 2008-09 season.
So, why do the Sixers believe he can play?
It’s the ultimate mantra of the NBA Draft -- he has upside.
Holiday only recently turned 19. He could still grow both physically and mentally.
So, for now don’t expect a big rookie splash from Holiday. He should show some flashes of potential but likely will run into some growing pains along the way..
But, given a couple of seasons to grow along other young talent like Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speight and Andre Iguodala and the Sixers should only be a defensive big man short of competing.