Aaron Holiday now has seven games and 52 minutes under his belt with the Indiana Pacers this season, providing a huge boost in wins over Atlanta and Utah as Thanksgiving draws closer.
And to say he’s off to an absolutely flying start is an understatement.
Sure, it’s 52 minutes (but we’ve never let small sample sizes stop us from gushing before, as this site’s unapologetic love of HERO OF SERBIA Boban Marjanovic has always made clear), but Holiday is shooting 59.1 percent from the field, 50 percent on 12 attempts from three-point land, and…57.1 percent (4-of-7) from the free throw line because that’s been Indiana’s kryptonite all year.
He’s got 24.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, he’s posting a 117 Offensive Rating and 108 Defensive Rating, and with a 19.4 PER and .171 WS/48, once he learns to play defense (minus-3.1 DBPM), Holiday could be the equal of his brothers in the league.
Even more encouraging is Holiday’s Net Rating, a solid plus-6.2, with a positive (by 0.3) on-off Net Rating split.
Put simply, Holiday has so far been in the NBA exactly what anyone who watched him at UCLA (where he shot over 40 percent from three in all three of his college seasons) would have expected. Dude can shoot.
And we’ve talked about this before here at Pace and Space, but Holiday’s emergence could make Darren Collison expendable.
The Pacers’ bench unit relies heavily on guys who can hold leads or close deficits better than almost any team in the league; with Domantas Sabonis effectively acting as the leader and making his case for Sixth Man of the Year, the guys they’ve put around Sabonis—Tyreke Evans, Cory Joseph, Doug McDermott, and a rotating fourth guy from the starting lineup—have consistently been worth at least five or six points per 100 possessions to the cause of wiping out those first-quarter deficits the Pacers are infamous for.
This is exactly why Collison is now expendable, able to be traded either for more assets like a legitimate backup power forward or future draft pick considerations to keep the Mad Ants the deepest team in the G-League.
You can promote CoJo to work his magic with Victor Oladipo at the starter level while letting Holiday work on his chemistry with Sabonis to make the second unit even more explosive.
There’s no reason, with Oladipo working his way back from injury, why Holiday should find himself relegated to garbage time. This isn’t one of those statistical flukes where the guy’s shooting out of his mind and will regress hard.
I mean, he’ll regress—nobody shoots 50 percent beyond the arc for a whole season, and a 70 percent clip on two-pointers for a guy who isn’t a center is wildly unsustainable—but he won’t magicaly start to suck.
The bigger question is whether Holiday’s defense, which has to be hidden even against backups, is going to be too much of a liability.
But Collison is a trash fire. Joseph has a mind-blowing plus-13.7 on-court Net Rating that screams promotion to starter.
Someone has to fill that void on the second unit, and that’s why it’s the Holiday season for the Pacers.