Philadelphia 76ers: Aaron Holiday would be an ideal sixth man

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

With a desperate need for scoring, defense, and ball handling coming off the bench, the Philadelphia 76ers should do everything in their power to pry Aaron Holiday away from the Indiana Pacers.

For years, Philadelphia 76ers fans have been pinning after a guard named Holiday. You may have heard of him, the ex-UCLA Bruin with a funny name who played here for a couple of years before jump-starting the Process? I think he’s playing for the New Orleans Pelicans now, and may, just may, be looking for a trade on a count of his team being trapped in a season-long tailspin without their husky rookie star to a leg injury.

He makes a little under $26 million a year, so pulling off any sort of trade would be pretty tricky, but that’s cool, he may not even be the Holiday Philly should target via trade.

That’s right, as you may have seen from a recent history-making game between the Pelicans and Pacers – both of the NBA’s P teams – there are actually three Holidays in the league, oldest brother Justin, middle brother Jrue, and 23-year-old Aaron bringing up the rear.

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As things presently stand, the Sixers have employed Justin and Jrue for a combined 325 games, but Aaron remains the elusive Holiday to not yet wear a red, white, and blue jersey.

At this point, why not shoot for the trifecta?

Measuring in at 6-foot-nada, with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Holiday is a point guard-sized point guard but is knocking down 42.5 percent of his shot attempts a game from beyond the arc. In the Sixers’ embarrassing loss to the Pacers on New Year’s Eve, a game so bad it’s better left in 2019, Holiday shared the court with pretty much every guard on Indiana’s roster, playing alongside his brother, Jeremy Lamb, and our old hometown favorite, T.J. McConnell.

He probably would have played with Malcolm Brogdon too, but alas, he left the game early on with a sore lower back. What a shame.

This versatility is clutch for the Pacers, as they have, like, a dozen guards under contract to pair up with T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner, but once Brogdon returns to full strength and Masked Singer alum Victor Oladipo someone’s minutes have to take a dip, right? Maybe Nate McMillan‘s squad would be willing to part ways with one of their guards for another forward or a backup big?

Now the logical move would be to bring back McConnell for obvious reasons, but Timothy John would have just as many issues on the Sixers in 2019-20 that he had last season, even if he scorched his former squad on New Years. Holiday lacks 333 games of experience in Brett Brown’s scheme, but personally, I wouldn’t hold it against the second-year pro.

Again, Holiday can flat-out score from all over the court, but surprisingly enough, he’s actually a better defensive player according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus. Last season, Holiday finished out the season with a -.40 DRPM, the 29th best mark of any point in the league. That’s pretty good, better than any guard on the Sixers not named Ben Simmons, but it’s a far cry from his production so far this season. Through the first 32 games of action, Holiday has a 1.31 DRPM, the 13th highest mark in the league.

Granted, the sample size is rather small and thus should be taken with a grain of salt – I mean, Trey Burke has the fourth-best defensive RPM of any point in the league, and that feels beyond generous – but it is encouraging to see growth going into Year 2.

So I think we can all agree that Holiday is a pretty good player with the potential to get even better down the line with an expanded role, but would the Pacers even be willing to move on from the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft with two years left on his rookie-scale contract?

I may be naive, but I’d say yes – but it’ll cost you.

Because of Holiday’s age, pedigree, and contract, it would probably cost Elton Brand a pretty penny to bring him to the City of Brotherly Love. Not quite as much as his brother, but I wouldn’t raise my brow if the Pacers asked for a player like Mike Scott or James Ennis and a first-round pick to pry away the ascending guard.

Now that’s a lot, more than the 76ers got for former first overall pick Markelle Fultz when they finally unloaded his contract last season, but for a player like Holiday, it may be worth it. Despite a lack of height, Holiday is a combo guard in every sense of the word, but he’s a different breed of combo guard than Burke, Brogdon, or Allen Iverson – he’s an unselfish combo guard. Since all the way back in college, Holiday has been asked to split his time between playing on and off the ball, and regardless of the task, he’s remained content, active, and, most importantly, productive.

It’s not hard to imagine Holiday running the second-team offense as a lead ball-handler, playing alongside a forward-aligned Simmons, or even playing a role remarkably similar to Josh Richardson‘s as a straight-up off-ball shooting guard.

While it may be blasé to say, Holiday could fill the role Bryan Colangelo envisioned Fultz to play when he traded up to acquire the Washington guard, and he could do so long-term as the team’s sixth man for years to come.

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In summation, should the Philadelphia 76ers trade for Aaron Holiday? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes – there isn’t a better player (potentially) available at the deadline who fits what Brett Brown is trying to do, and with a strapped up salary cap for the next three or so years, there may not be a better opportunity to add an unselfish combo guard during the team’s championship window. Make it happen Elton Brand, I’m counting on you.