For Now, Aaron Holiday Should Stay in the Indiana Pacers’ Starting Lineup

Despite failing to find a rhythm since entering the starting rotation, the Indiana Pacers need to leave Aaron Holiday on the first team.

The Indiana Pacers have a tough decision to make with Aaron Holiday and the starting lineup. Typically, 5.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists are not what you are looking for in a starting guard at the NBA level. Those numbers are not far off from his career averages despite the high-expectations for the third-year player out of UCLA.

Holiday entered the starting lineup the fifth game of the 2020-21 season after T.J. Warren went down indefinitely with a stress fracture. With Jeremy Lamb still sidelined, the injury hurt the Pacers’ wing rotation and opened a spot on the starting lineup.

A case can be made for Doug McDermott to move into the starting rotation after a strong start to the season. Averaging career-highs with 11 points and 3.4 rebounds, his biggest contribution is newfound explosiveness and aggression.

Justin Holiday is another candidate for the open starting spot. A strong defender and outside threat, Justin Holiday, has lived up to the multi-year contract he earned in the offseason. Through nine games, his season averages are 11.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals.

In terms of their performances this season, both McDermott and Justin Holiday deserve a starting nod over Aaron Holiday. His per-game averages along with shooting 37% from the field just are not getting it done.

But…

Aaron Holiday should remain in the starting lineup. A major key to the Indiana Pacers’ success this season has been the bench play. Add T.J. McConnell’s energy and hustle to what McDermott and Justin Holiday bring and Indiana can still compete with a majority of their first team on the bench.

The Pacers do not need Aaron Holiday to match the production of Warren or Lamb. They need him to not hurt the team, eat minutes, and do as much as possible to elevate others on the court. Those tasks are best accomplished with the first team rotation.

Lamb is expected to return in the next month or so which will add some much-needed depth on the wing. It is possible that Lamb becomes a starter in Warren’s absence once he is back to game speed. It’s also possible that McDermott or Justin Holiday move into the first team with Lamb bringing starter-level production off the bench. That would give the Pacers more size on the first team and both have definitely played well enough to warrant a spot in the starting lineup.

For now, Warren and Lamb remain out, McDermott and Justin Holiday are thriving as reserves, and Aaron Holiday is eating minutes. Unless a player like Edmond Sumner or Cassius Stanley can show Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren they deserve consistent minutes (which is possible after the duo combined for eight minutes against the Phoenix Suns), Aaron Holiday will continue to get significant minutes.

It’s been a rough start to the season for Aaron Holiday. For now, the Pacers need him in the starting lineup. Hopefully, he finds his rhythm soon.