Pacers’ acquisition of Justin Holiday provides scoring off the bench

Now that Justin Holiday is joining the Indiana Pacers, the reunion with his brother should immediately improve the team’s scoring off the bench

To the dismay of LaVar Ball, Shawn Holiday has seen all three of his sons reach the NBA. His middle child, Jrue Holiday, is a ten-year veteran and has been an NBA All-Star and two-time All-Defensive team selection with the New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers. His youngest son, Aaron Holiday, is coming off his second summer league as he approaches his sophomore season with the Indiana Pacers. And just recently, Justin Holiday, the oldest of the three brothers, is on the move to play alongside his kid brother.

Shams Charania of the Athletic initially reported the deal:

Last season, Holiday averaged 10.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 82 total appearances between the Chicago Bulls and the Memphis Grizzlies. In both cities he played last year, the veteran wing found himself in the lineup on struggling teams. This meant he was often in scenarios where he was relied on to get buckets, resulting in 32 games where he scored in double figures.

The 30-year-old notched the second-highest true shooting percentage (52.0) of his career in 2018-19. When you consider that he attempted over seven three-point shots per game while in Chicago – almost seventy percent of his overall shots – it’s impressive he was able to shoot as efficiently as he did in systems that lacked offensive production, or much of a structure at all.

That being said, his 38.6% shooting from the floor and 34.8% rate from deep leave room for improvement. Holiday isn’t particularly known for his shooting ability, but he’ll likely be taking significantly less shots next season coming off the bench. Nearly forty-seven percent of his attempts last year were catch-and-shoot threes and he drained 41.5% of his corner threes.

Now among a roster that has playmaking and two bigs in the starting lineup, the veteran may find a plentiful amount of these high-percentage looks off of passes. He’s certainly in a better situation to succeed than he’s been in since winning a title with the Golden State Warriors in 2015.

The wing struggles to get to the foul stripe, but he converted on a career-high 89.6% percent of his free throw attempts last season. He doesn’t take many shots around the rim or create off the dribble, but Holiday’s ability to find his spot:


or make a quick cut toward the basket:

to get open looks make him a threat whenever the ball is in his hands.

On the defensive end, Holiday doesn’t have a problem getting his hands on the ball. In fact, he ranked 11th overall in total steals last season. Now that he’s playing for a good defensive team, the wing could be in situations where he can gamble on the perimeter to try and force a turnover or disrupt a possession. While he’ll be playing less minutes than he has in the past couple of seasons, it’s reassuring to have a player who can consistently come off the bench and hold his own on defense.

At 30 years old, the Pacers’ new acquisition is currently the oldest member on the roster. Aside from mentoring his brother – one of the younger players on the team – Holiday can help set the tone in a locker room featuring many new faces. The signing aids in filling a leadership void left from the departures of players like Darren Collison and Thaddeus Young.

Holiday’s role should be amplified as the Pacers take the court without Victor Oladipo. As the team finds their footing upon the season’s beginning, the veteran has the experience to be a voice in the huddle and offer guidance to his teammates.

On the court, the absence of Indiana’s star means the wing is likely the de facto backup two-guard behind Jeremy Lamb. Having played in all 82 games in two of the last three seasons, he should be able to fill this position reliably. Given that he played a majority of his minutes as a small forward in Memphis, the 6-foot-6 wing could be paired next to Lamb in certain rotations too.

Despite starting for both of his squads last year, the swingman has come off the bench for the majority of his career. As one of the better wing options that was left in the free agent market, he possesses a spark plug ability that could be especially vital for a Pacers team that often suffered from lapses of stagnant offense. Depending on his production over the first few months of the season, the 30-year-old could potentially edge Doug McDermott or T.J. Leaf out of the rotation once Oladipo returns to action.

Next: What's the best defensive lineup for the Pacers?

Everything considered, the signing appears to be a win for the Indiana Pacers. Every team needs shooting off the bench, especially once playoff time rolls around, and Justin Holiday could be a key contributor in that department. With his deal just being for one season, it’s a low risk move that, on the surface, provides the team with veteran experience and needed wing depth. However, if he can replicate his play in Chicago over the past two seasons, the reunion of the eldest and youngest Holidays could end up being a very impactful signing for the front office.

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