This is the slow time in the NBA off-season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start looking ahead to the 2010-11 season and which players might surprise us. The Slept-on Files will feature some of the players you might have overlooked or written off — and give you reasons why you shouldn’t.

Jrue Holiday’s file: One season: 73 games, 24.2 MPG, 44.2% FG, 39% 3PT FG, 66.7% FT, 2.6 RPG, 2.7 APG, 8.0 PPG

Why he’s being slept on: I know what you’re thinking. How do you sleep on a player that’s just going into their sophomore season after he was splitting minutes with both Allen Iverson and Lou Williams in his first season as a professional? There’s your answer. In a backcourt that was shuffling players and lineups all season, Jrue Holiday didn’t really get a fair shake in his rookie campaign with the Philadelphia 76ers. Getting time when Williams went down with a broken jaw, he was then bumped from the lineup after the Iverson signing went down. When he finally did get his shot after the AI experiment had come to an unsettling close, Holiday was one of a few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season for the Sixers, finishing the year with 41 consecutive starts.

2009 was the year of the guard, with Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry all being drafted. This doesn’t even include Holiday’s UCLA teammate Darren Collison, or Ty Lawson and Jonny Flynn. It’s easy to see why Holiday was lost in the shuffle of his draft class, especially when he wasn’t getting the same time on the court or freedom as his fellow rookies. Even before he became an NBA rookie, Holiday was a player who had been under the radar in his one season at UCLA, playing out of position as a shooting guard when senior Darren Collison returned and already had the one spot locked up.

Why he shouldn’t be slept on: Holiday was able to go back to his natural position as a distributor when he was drafted by the Sixers with the 17th pick. While he was playing the point, people were unable to see his crisp passes, court vision and deceptively quick moves to the basket when he was glued to the bench. As the Sixers season went on, Holiday, the first player born in the 1990s to play in the NBA, began piecing together performances that proved he belonged.

Averaging 12.5 points and 6.2 assists per contest through March and April, Holiday looked like a different player than the timid guard who had started the season looking over at his head coach every time a mistake or miscue was made. Spending time with Philly assistant coach Aaron McKie helped Holiday gain confidence and, most importantly, continue to play his own brand of basketball while on the floor. With McKie in his ear offering encouragement and support, slowly the pro game has become easier for Holiday. With a career-high 25 points against the Raptors in April he showed that he can put points on the board. A dizzying 13-point, 12-assist, 7-steal night in a victory over the Hawks showed he can do a little bit of everything. With continued trust from his teammates and a new head coach who is big on development, Holiday is well on his way to being an every day household name.

Comments (7)

  1. Had fun watching him play at ucla and wasn’t totally sure he should of left as a freshmen. If westbrook and collison are any indication of ucla guard potential….

  2. Holiday will be an All-Star in a year or two without a doubt. He just has got to keep improving his shot and reduce turnovers. He is a special player. Sixers have loads of talent. I like Levin and Sims’ commentaries but the sixers will NOT stink this year. They have WAY too much talent. They will definitely finish above .500 barring major injuries.

  3. This kid will flourish under Doug Collins. Coach Collins will be tough on Holiday, but he will be the beneficiary of good, solid coaching.

    Holiday has a very good left-hand game, finishes very well, and with the additional minutes will prove to become a very reliable shooter.

    This was a brilliant pick by the Sixers.

  4. I played with him at campbell hall. He is the truth, Howland and the pumo brothers screwed him!!!!!! He’s regained his confidence, collins will love him, the vets love his demenaor and hi skillset puts him hopefuly on my lakers radar! I know Magic loves him….great pick he will be better than jennings and lawson

  5. Sixers have LOADS of talent… I can’t believe all the naysayers. We basically didn’t have a coach last year. Jordan was a joke (which was great for draft purposes). Hawes was a HUGE pickup… if he can rebound at all, sixers should be very, very solid. Holiday and Turner at guards, Brand should do much better under Collins… this team will EASILY make the playoffs, even with a strong Eastern conference.

  6. Only reason Sixers will easily make the playoffs is the poor quality of eastern teams, there record will be sub par at best. Arguably, every team has loads of talent, how they execute it is another story. I do agree that Holiday will have a bright future, but his 3 pt stats at 66.7% must be like 2-3. If his percentage were this high on many shots, he’d be the greatest 3 pt shooter in history; stats can be misleading. Philly will be lucky to get past the 1st round John…still need a few key pieces to become a real contender like my blessed Celts…

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