Dear NBA: Jrue Holiday should have been 6th man of the year


Dear NBA, Jrue Holiday has been the best bench player in the league this season and deserved to be the 2016 6th man of the year. You made a huge mistake.

First of all, awards are meaningless. The only hardware that matters in this league, and I mean really matters, is MVP’s and championship rings.

With that said, awards are fun! Whether they actually mean anything or not, they are something to get fans discussing. Sports are fundamentally based on the idea of competition, so why not create a bunch of arbitrary competitions for people to argue about?

Regardless of whether you think “6th Man of the Year” is an important award, Jrue Holiday is the guy that should have won it, rather than Jamal Crawford who was worse in virtually every single way.

The only requirement to be considered for the awards is to simply start less games than you play off the bench. Since he left with a facial injury towards the end of the year, Jrue has officially come off the bench in 42 of the 65 games he’s played this season.

In 28.2 minutes per game this season he averaged 16.8 points, 6.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 47% on two pointers and 33% on threes.

Other candidates who competed for the award are Will Barton, Jeremy Lin, Enes Kanter, and last but certainly not least… Ryan Anderson!

Let’s go one by one and explain why Jrue has outperformed each of these players this season.

Let’s start with Will Barton, who has shocked the league by making a huge leap in level of play this season. He went from scoring 6.8 points a game last season to scoring 14.4 points a game this year. While I think he’s a solid candidate for “Most Improved Player,” he doesn’t touch Jrue’s level of play overall. Head to head, Jrue scored 2.4 more points a game, dished out 3.5 more assists, and grabbed 0.6 more steals per game in 0.5 less minutes a night. The only area he fell to Barton was rebounding, where Barton grabbed 2.8 more per game. Overall, Jrue was clearly the superior contributor.

Now we move on to Jeremy Lin. Jrue played basically the same role as Lin this season, but Jrue clearly did a better job. Both came off the bench for about 26-28 minutes a night, but in that time Jrue averaged 5.1 more points a game, 3.0 more assists, and 0.9 more steals. Once again, the only area Jrue placed 2nd in was rebounding, but this time it was only by 0.2 per game. Efficiency wise, Lin shot the same percentage from deep as Jrue (33%), while shooting 3% worse from two. Jrue clearly outperformed Lin almost everywhere, and when you factor in Jrue’s defense it isn’t even a question.

Now to the guy who actually won the award, Mr. Jamal Crawford. Now before we even get to the fact that Jamal is light years behind Jrue in terms of defensive intelligence, let’s see if he can beat him on the offensive end. In basically the exact same amount of minutes a game, Jrue managed to average 2.6 more points, 3.7 more assists, 1.8 more rebounds, and more 0.9 steals per game. Jamal simply has no case against Jrue. Even if he wasn’t a terrible on-ball defender, his offensive game still can’t compete. The fact that Jamal is the guy who won the award frankly amazes me, and I can’t help but think name recognition and previous accomplishments were considered more than his 2016 performance. Out of all these guys, he probably ranks 4th or 5th statistically.

The next challenger is Enes Kanter, who’s per 36 numbers look like an average year for Moses Malone. 21.7 points, 13.9 rebounds per game on a very solid 57% from the floor. So what’s the catch? Defense. Kanter is so clueless and lost on that end that OKC only plays him just 21 minutes a game. In that time, he puts up just 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds a night. On a per minute production level, Kanter edges out Jrue slightly due to his fantastic rebounding numbers. When you factor in defense, Jrue knocks that slight lead out of the park. If I had a vote between the two, I’d pick the guy who’s actually playable for extended periods of time while putting up just marginally better stats (21-7-4 per 36 for Jrue).

Finally, Jrue is challenged by fellow teammate Ryan Anderson. Since most of you are Pelicans fans, I probably don’t need to go into great detail about why Jrue Holiday is a better play than Ryan Anderson. For those who aren’t, Jrue still averaged only 0.2 points less than Anderson despite playing almost two less minutes per night. He averaged 4.9 more assists, and 0.8 more steals, and obviously played much better defense than Anderson. That’s really what gives Jrue the edge on Anderson and almost every other 6th man of the year challenger. While each player almost provides the statistical output Jrue does, very few can match his level of defense play.

Is there a 7th man of the year award? If so, Ryan Anderson could probably contend for that one.

To summarize, Jrue has been the best player in the league this season off the bench. His team has been terrible, but Louis Williams proved last season that individual stats are the only thing that matters when it comes to winning this award. I’m not quite sure how Jamal Crawford managed to win it, but by stacking Jrue up against him and every other candidate it becomes clear he was truly the best 6th man in the league this year.

Again, most awards don’t really mean anything. Does that stop me from caring about who wins them? Absolutely not.