NBA All-Star Game 2019: All-Star caliber Guards, Part 1
The 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend is just about five weekends away from today. 14 teams in the Western Conference are fighting spiritedly for only eight playoff berths, while the Eastern Conference basement is itself in a state of flux due to the competitiveness of the Nets, Hornets and the Orlando Magic.
All of this means that there are a number of deserving players with the talent and ability to match the actual All-Star selections toe for toe on any given day, but won't be playing at that stage. That much has been obvious given how many breakout seasons we're having from emerging players in a variety of roster situations in 2018-19.
Let's take a look at some of the spectacular Western Conference guards whose chances of making it to the 18th February festivities in Charlotte are slim only because of external factors, not their own play:
#1 Jrue Holiday
Injuries derailed a number of his prime athletic years, but a healthy Jrue Holiday is a true dawg who gives it his all on both ends of the court and excels at it. Over the past couple of seasons, the Pelicans' combo, do-it-all guard has filled in for a variety of Swiss-Knife like tactical roles in All-Star-worthy fashion. Look at his stats from 2017-18 as a case in point:
2017-18 stats: 19.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks per game
2017-18 shooting splits: 49.5 field goal percentage, 33.7 3-point percentage, 78.6 free throw percentage
Accolades: NBA All-Defensive First Team for the season
41 games into the season, Holiday has averaged 36.5 minutes per game - good for 2nd on his team behind Anthony Davis, 3rd in the league among guards and 4th overall. The Pelicans have missed key role players at various junctures, and their wafer-thin perimeter depth chart has forced Holiday into point guard roles for more than half of his minutes every game.
With him as the engine room of the offense, the Pelicans' offense has not missed a beat despite Rondo's departure and Payton's unavailability. Their high-paced offense charts at 4th in the league in offensive rating and 6th in pace this season, and Holiday is usually good to guard the opposing team's best perimeter player for the length of his time on the floor.
His performances this season have once again been worthy of All-Defensive attention, but it remains to be seen whether the Pelicans' poor record allows him to notch up his first selection to the Western Conference's 12-man All Star roster.