In the summer, Las Vegas is the land of opportunity for basketball players who are looking for a spot on an NBA roster or looking for more experience. Dreams can come true in the NBA Summer League.
The Golden State Warriors didn’t have a draft pick this year and there might not be any standout names on their Summer League roster, but one of those fairly unknown players is making a serious push for a spot on the Warriors’ roster for the 2014-2015 season. That player is Justin Holiday.
The name might sound familiar. Holiday is the older brother of 2013 NBA All-Star and New Orleans Pelicans’ point guard, Jrue Holiday. Justin is taller than his younger brother, as he stands 6-foot-6-inches, and he is a shooting guard/small forward. He’s a shooter who can also rebound and defend.
Shooter, you say? That sounds like one of the main things the Warriors are desperately missing from their bench. In fact, it is. The Warriors have added more depth to their bench with the signing of veteran point guard Shaun Livingston, who will be a solid backup for Stephen Curry, and given his size, can even back up Klay Thompson a little bit too.
Livingston is a very skilled point guard, but shooting isn’t his biggest strength. The Warriors could use a little more backcourt depth, especially now that Jordan Crawford is a free agent, and Holiday could be a solution to that problem for the Warriors. He would provide the Warriors with many assets that they’re severely lacking right now on the bench.
When Holiday played college basketball at the University of Washington, he was simply a defensive stopper, which makes sense given his long wingspan and athleticism. Since then, he’s played for Okapi Aalstar in Belgium for the 2011-12 season, the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Development League for the 2012-13 season, and Szolnok in Hungary for the 2013-2014 season.
He averaged 17.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.4 steals in 47 games with the Stampede, and he signed a 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers at the end of the 2012-2013 season.
Based on his experience and hard work, he’s become much more of a complete, two-way player. He’s developed his jump shot more, which allowed him to convert 54.1 percent of his threes last season in Hungary. He has also learned to utilize his athleticism more when scoring.
Steve Kerr spoke with Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, and he said has been impressed with Holiday’s overall game.
“He has all the look of an NBA player: the shooting stroke, the length,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “He has talent, but he’s got to continue to get stronger.”
So far in Summer League, Holiday is averaging 19 points on 48.7 percent shooting from the floor and 42.9 percent shooting from three. He had a rough first game when the Warriors faced the Charlotte Hornets, but he has definitely bounced back.
He had 29 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks, shot 9-for-15 on field goals, shot 2-for-5 from three, shot 9-for-9 from the free throw line, and hit the game-winning shot for the Warriors against the Phoenix Suns. He also had 26 points, three rebounds, two blocks, two steals, shot 9-for-18 from the floor, and shot 4-for-8 from three in the Warriors’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’ll be interesting to see how Holiday does during the rest of the Summer League, but if he can continue to defend, score, and rebound, then the Warriors could at least offer him a training camp invite.
The Warriors are financially strapped. They don’t have much wiggle room in their budget, but Holiday could be signed at the minimum, which is basically the Warriors’ only option right now for filling the final three spots on the roster.
If Holiday was offered a roster spot, he might not see a lot of playing time and might even have to spend parts of the season with the Warriors’ D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, but his skills could certainly translate well to the Warriors’ roster.
Kerr certainly thinks so, and he again spoke to Simmons about it.
“He’s somebody I’d love to have on my team, just because of his attitude,” Kerr said.
If Holiday can continue to impress at Summer League, then he might just be the best option the Warriors have for adding depth to their roster at an affordable price.