Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday’s All-Star case compared to East guards

Dec 2, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Who would have thought with the way his season started, that we’d be nearly 40 games into the season, almost halfway, and Jrue Holiday could be on his way to an All-Star appearance for the Milwaukee Bucks?

There’s no sugar coating it, he was not good after coming back from an ankle sprain. He was likely dealing with the aftereffects of the injury through his first nine games back, but it doesn’t totally excuse the numbers he was putting up in terms of scoring efficiency.

The 31-year-old averaged 12.8 points on 41.4 percent true shooting, including 27.1 percent from 3-point range. Holiday is already a player who doesn’t get to the free-throw line as much as someone who is as physical as he is should, but then adding in poor 3-point shooting and seemingly losing his touch around the basket makes for a bad combination.

However, throughout his last 15 games, Holiday has put himself firmly in discussion to be named to his second All-Star team. Sure, 15 games is a relatively small sample, but in the context of having to do this without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton for a portion of it, he’s putting a strong case together. However, the East is deeper than ever and there are plenty of deserving candidates who are as or more deserving than Holiday. So, with All-Star voting set to open on Christmas Day, how does he compare to the best in the East?

Comparing Jrue Holiday to the best guards in the Eastern Conference for an All-Star spot

Let’s start with a few easy ones. It would be irrational to think that Holiday should be one of the starters for the Eastern Conference, so we can safely put a couple of guards ahead of him, we’ll call them locks.

Zach LaVine has led the Chicago Bulls to one of the best records in the conference and is very much deserving of an All-Star spot this season, he’s in. Despite his team’s record hovering around 0.500, Trae Young should also be guaranteed a spot on the All-Star team. Many expected him to be one of the players most hindered by the new foul rules, but he’s responded with another fantastic season.

From there, it’s a matter of where you’d classify players such as Jimmy Butler and DeMar DeRozan. Both should be All-Stars, despite the missed games from Butler, but they could also be listed as forwards (or frontcourt players, whatever the NBA wants to call it).

That puts Holiday in a group with the following players:

  • James Harden, Brooklyn Nets
  • Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
  • Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
  • Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

that’s a pretty stacked group of guards all vying for a couple of spots on the All-Star reserves. Despite his struggles, I’d say it’s a safe bet that Harden makes the All-Star team, so you can cross him off the list.

Let’s put some context into Holiday’s numbers of this stretch of 15 games. He is having a fantastic month of December, leading to him averaging over 20 points on 60.5 percent true shooting as well as nearly seven assists per game. Few players listed above are scoring with the efficiency that Holiday is, although we’re looking at a much smaller sample for the Milwaukee Bucks’ point guard.

This may be a hot take, but I’d put Holiday ahead of Beal in terms of who I’d pick for an All-Star spot at the moment. His efficiency is much worse than Holiday’s, which would happen with such a high usage player, but I think Holiday’s defense should matter, giving him the edge.

Ball, Garland, and VanVleet present the toughest competition for Holiday. All three are having tremendous seasons in different ways.

Ball has built off of his Rookie of the Year campaign with an even better sophomore season. His efficiency isn’t as strong as Holiday’s has been, but his passing is what sets him apart from the pack. He’s one of the best passers in the league and can still average around 20 points per game.

Garland’s stat line is the most similar to Holiday in that he’s also averaging right around 20 points and seven assists, while also posting a near 60 percent true shooting. He’s been the offensive leader for the surprising Cavs and they should be represented in the All-Star game.

VanVleet is also averaging around 20 points and seven assists, but while the efficiency isn’t as high as Garland’s, he has been a fantastic defender once again. One of my favorite games of the season so far was seeing Holiday and VanVleet go head-to-head in a shot-making and defense fest. He was nearly an All-Star last season and is having a better season this year.

Right now all three would be ahead of Holiday simply because they’ve been doing it for the whole season and not just a 15-game sample that has somewhat normalized Holiday’s overall numbers. It’s a deeper pool of guards than we’ve seen in a little while from the East, so it will be tough for Holiday to get in, even if he can sustain this level of play.

Holiday has had to lead a very understaffed Milwaukee Bucks team through some difficult stretches recently, which is a feather in his cap for his potential All-Star candidacy. What’s been good to see is that while he’s producing strong offensive numbers, his defense hasn’t slipped and, once again, should be considered when deciding All-Stars for the Milwaukee Bucks.

dark. Next. Assessing hardship exception options for the Milwaukee Bucks

Regardless of if Holiday makes an All-Star team, it’s good to see him return to form after his strong regular season last year and flashes of offensive dominance during the championship run.