Sixers Prepare For Pelicans as Holiday Makes Return to Philly


Nov 16, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday (11) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard Tony Wroten (8) during the second half of a game at New Orleans Arena. The Pelicans defeated the 76ers 135-98. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since late April, Jrue Holiday will step foot on the court in the Wells Fargo Center.

This time however, Jrue will not be wearing the red, white, and blue jersey with the word “Sixers” stretching across his chest. Tonight, Jrue Holiday will play in front of the fans who cheered for him and watched the young point guard grow up during his first four years in the league, but wearing a New Orleans Pelicans jersey.

As the Sixers get set to take on New Orleans for the second time this season, the storyline is focused almost solely on the return of Jrue Holiday to the arena that he called home for the start of his career.

Holiday’s Sixer career came to an abrupt end when new General Manager Sam Hinkie pulled the trigger on a draft night trade that sent the fan favorite Holiday to New Orleans for the sixth overall pick Nerlens Noel and a top five protected pick in the 2014 draft. The Sixers would then draft Holiday’s replacement with their own first round pick that turned out to be the rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams.

It is impossible to judge which team got the better half of the trade due to the future implications that still lie ahead for the Sixers.

Rookie Nerlens Noel must make a full recovery from his ACL tear that he suffered in January. The seven foot center has been rehabbing and working on different aspects of his offensive game for the past several months. Head coach Brett Brown has already declared Noel out for the season and the team expects him to make a full recovery in time for the start of next season.

The other uncertain variable for the Sixers is whether or not the team will receive New Orleans’ draft pick in the upcoming draft. In order for the Pelicans to keep the draft pick, New Orleans must finish with one of the worst records in the league and receive a draft slot within the top five. If New Orleans’ pick falls out of the top five, the Sixers will receive the pick.

New Orleans is currently 6-8 on the season and 13th in the Western Conference, something that does not bode well for the Sixers draft plans.

Both Jrue Holiday and Michael Carter-Williams have greatly benefitted from this trade for their own respective reasons however.

Nov 16, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday (11) shoots against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of a game at New Orleans Arena. The Pelicans defeated the 76ers 135-98. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

For Holiday, the trade from the Sixers gives the young point guard a chance to play with one of the best players in the NBA and budding superstar Anthony Davis. These two have formed a deadly pick and roll combination that creates trouble for opposing teams in a variety of ways. Holiday’s impact on Davis’ game has been immeasurable as the second year center is averaging 19.4 PPG and 10.6 RPG.

Taking over for Holiday, MCW was drafted by the Sixers and immediately given the starting role. Carter-Williams has proven his critics wrong and provided reasons for why he should have been taken higher than eleventh in the draft. The rookie has played extremely well and is playing great basketball on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

From a statistics perspective, the two point guards are almost neck and neck;however, one player is playing at a higher level and making more of an impact. Take a look at these season statistics from early on:

Player A

17.8 PPG 7.0 APG 5.6 RPG 3.1 SPG .40 FG% .36 3P%

Player B

14 PPG 7.3 APG 3.9 RPG 1.4 SPG .42 FG% .43 3P%

Judging from these statistics, it would seem that each player brings different elements to their respective team.

Player A has produced at an extremely high level on the offensive end scoring nearly eighteen points per game and dishing out seven assists a night. The problem with these numbers lies in the shooting percentages, which are not exactly where they should be for an NBA starter and is far from being considered an efficient scoring rate. On the other hand, Player A makes up for the lack of shooting efficiency on the defensive end of the court. This point guard has become one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA and currently leads the league in steals per game.

Player B is not scoring as many points as player A, but has shot at a similar clip from the field. This player has been a more efficient shooter from behind the arc, however, and has a slight edge in the assists category. Defensively, Player B does not make the same type of impact as Player A on the other side of the ball. Rebounding is not exactly this player’s strong suite even going back to his collegiate days. The steals per game could also be a little higher, but this player is extremely talented and will make a huge impact moving forward.

Have you figured out which player is which?

Player A is Michael Carter-Williams and Player B is Jrue Holiday.

Nov 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) brings the ball up court during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Through fourteen games, MCW has outplayed Jrue Holiday in a number of offensive categories. The Syracuse product is making this trade look like a stroke of genius by Sam Hinkie.

Jrue Holiday is a former all-star and a great player in his own right, but if MCW can continue to play at this level and develop other areas of his game to go along with Nerlens Noel and two first round picks, the Sixers will have one this deal by a landslide based on the young talent that will be on the roster.

Despite the hopeful future of this franchise built around the young talent, we as Sixers fans miss and appreciate Jrue Holiday. Fans watched him grow from the eighteen year old point guard into a twenty two year old all-star that led the Sixers to a deep playoff run in 2011.

Tonight when he takes the court for the first time in an opposing uniform, the fans will show their appreciation and give him a warm welcome back to Philadelphia. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he was traded. Keep this in mind when watching tonight’s game.