Jrue Holiday Is Proving He’s The Most Underrated Player In The NBA

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

The New Orleans Pelicans charged Jrue Holiday with a harrowing task a season and a half ago.

Thanks to an All-Star Weekend trade, the point guard had to manage to keep two All-NBA big man happy while also looking for his own shot and playing lockdown defense.

Then the team complicated matters by signing Rajon Rondo to play his position, moving Holiday to a new spot at shooting guard.

Holiday responded by putting up the best season in his nine-year NBA career, averaging 19 efficient points per game to go with six assists and his usual sparkling defense.

Now, he’s taking over in the playoffs.

On Tuesday night, the Pels assumed a 2-0 series lead over the Portland Trail Blazers on the road, thanks in no small part to Holiday’s crucial perimeter creation and his putting the clamps on Damian Lillard.

In Game 1 of the teams’ first-round matchup, Holiday held Lillard to 18 points on brutal 6-of-23 shooting.

He also made huge defensive plays down the stretch to preserve a two-point victory.

Like this one.

And this one.

And this one.

All while pouring in 21 points.

In Game 2, he somehow improved upon that performance, holding Lillard to 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting and a whopping seven turnovers.

Offensively, he set the tone early.

Then, with the game tied at 97 late in the fourth quarter, Holiday had a hand in the Pels’ remaining 14 points, scoring eight of his own, assisting on a Nikola Mirotic three-pointer, and making the pass that led to E’Twaun Moore’s assist on a Rondo dagger.

He finished with a playoff career-high 33 points on 14-of-24 shooting to go with nine dimes.

Look, I know it’s a tall order to call someone making more than $25 million a year “underrated,” but it’s just the case — the guy gets no love from the media or fans outside of New Orleans.

Before the season, he was ranked 52nd, 60th, and 56th on preseason player rankings from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and SB Nation, respectively. So far in the playoffs, he’s proving those numbers laughably high.

Holiday is the best NBA player no one seems to care about. But he’s working on that, insanely hard.