Justin Holiday

Justin Holiday broke a Bulls franchise record, and now he is adding on to his lead

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USA TODAY

Justin Holiday broke a Bulls franchise record, and now he is adding on to his lead

Justin Holiday has been the model of consistency since playing for the Bulls. He has shot at least 35 percent from 3-point range in every Bulls season he has been a part of. But this year—partly through necessity and partly due to the stylistic shifts in the sport—Holiday has taken his floor-spacing to the extreme end of the spectrum, taking 55 percent of shots from 3-point range this season.  And the combination of his increased volume and trademark accuracy has resulted in one very impressive streak.

As of December 18, Justin Holiday has made at least one 3-pointer in 42 straight games.

The streak started on March 21, 2018 and is still ongoing, with Holiday's last game with a made 3-pointer coming in the Bulls loss to Oklahoma City on Monday.

Holiday is averaging 12 PPG this season and is shooting 38 percent from the 3-point line. His over 7 attempts per game from 3-point range keeps defenses honest, and Jim Boylen has started to use Holiday more in actions to free up Lauri Markkanen and/or Wendell Carter for open shots.

The streak will have a chance to continue when the Bulls take on the Brooklyn Nets tonight—with Bulls Pregame Live on NBC Sports Chicago at 6:30 p.m. CST—but it will be tough as the Nets are the best in the league at limiting their opponent's 3-point attempts, holding their foes to just under 27 attempts per game from 3-point range.

Holiday's excellent year shooting the ball is all the more impressive when you realize it comes on a team that is in the bottom 10 in 3-point attempts, 3-point makes and 3-point percentage. 

At 42 straight games with a 3-pointer, Holiday is already 11 games ahead of Kirk Hinrich, who previously held the Bulls' record for consecutive games with a 3-point shot made (at 31 straight games).

With the Bulls playing Holiday 35 minutes a night (10th in the league) and currently dealing with an injury to their leading scorer, Holiday could see this streak last a very long time. 
 

Justin Holiday continues to string together solid efforts amid tough Bulls losses

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USA TODAY

Justin Holiday continues to string together solid efforts amid tough Bulls losses

The Bulls came out on fire against the Bucks, putting up 40 points in an explosive first quarter. Unfortunately they followed that up by scoring 41 points in the second half. But the offense of Jabari Parker and Justin Holiday was pretty much the only thing working for Chicago on Friday night.


Holiday’s effectiveness as an aggressive, dependable floor-spacer continues to showcase what makes him such a valuable NBA player. Unfortunately, that value has been mostly squandered on a Bulls team that lacks a diverse offensive attack.

Holiday contributed 9 points on 3-3 shooting from the 3-point line in the first quarter. He kept this momentum rolling in the second, and ended up not missing a single shot in the first half. Holiday ended the first half 6-6 from the 3-point line but went on to only score once more in the second half. He ended the game with 20 points, the second-leading scorer on the night for Chicago.


On a night where Zach LaVine was clearly gassed from the burden of carrying the offense all season (6-20 from the field), only Parker could provide a solid secondary option. Parker’s effectiveness also tapered off dramatically in the second half, as he stopped taking 3-pointers and didn’t get to the free throw line at all. Early season struggles were to be expected from Parker, as he is on a new team with a roster full of young players. But his shot selection is what has been so frustrating to watch. 

Results do not have to be immediate, but seeing as Parker is taking a greater percentage of his shots from long 2-point range than last season, it is clear he hasn’t fully bought in to the idea of getting all the way to the basket or shooting the 3-pointer without hesitation. And that is why players like Holiday—one of Hoiberg’s loyal soldiers from his first year as Bulls coach—are so crucial.

It is clear that Hoiberg’s preferred playing style has stuck with Holiday and hopefully, that it can rub off on the other players.

We have discussed before how his 3-point attempt rate (72 percent) is the perfect indicator of how often he is hunting the 3-point shot. But the problem is that this current Bulls roster needs more players who create 3-point looks for others, rather than knock them down.

Heading into Friday night’s game, Holiday had been assisted on 72 percent of his 2-point shots and 95 percent of his 3-point shots. This season, he has been assisted on 57 percent of his 2-point shots and 90 percent of his 3-point shots. This is an alarming sign for the Holiday, as he has never been a player known for creating his own shot and the decline in assisted baskets means he is being forced outside of his comfort zone on offense.

It is no coincidence that Holiday’s 3-point percentage in November (35 percent) is lower than his 3-point percentage in October (40 percent). He played 34 minutes per game in October before that number got increased to 37 minutes per game in November. Holiday has been in the top 10 in minutes all year and there is no end in sight for his tremendous minutes load with the Bulls being so thin on the wing.

The 2019 NBA offseason for Chicago will likely be about finding players they can comfortably play at the small forward spot. But Bulls fans should appreciate Holiday’s play while he’s here, as he has been one of the team’s more consistent players. Holiday has done a decent amount of leading by example—especially when it comes to playing the way Hoiberg wants to—and continues to show why he can continue to be a valuable piece on this Bulls team.

Justin Holiday's breakout year could make him a valuable trade asset

Justin Holiday's breakout year could make him a valuable trade asset

On Wednesday, KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls veteran players are being made available in trade talks. And Justin Holiday specifically, has the skill set to enhance many of the league's best franchises. 

In the Bulls one-point loss to the Denver Nuggets, Chicago hit 16 of their 34 3-point attempts, with Justin Holiday accounting for roughly 15 percent of the makes.

The Bulls have so far become a close to a league average offense, a huge step for a team that was bottom-three in terms of offensive efficiency last season.

Holiday has made himself into a player that can provide tremendous value to an offense and is enough of a gamer on defense to make sure he isn’t a net negative, provided the proper structure.

Holiday is such a solid veteran presence that is would probably benefit the Bulls to keep him around such a young team. But whether he makes it through the rebuild or not, it is clear that Holiday has found his niche in the league.

At 6-foot, 6-inches, Holliday has solid length for the shooting guard position. He has made himself into an awesome offensive player, due to the shifting of majority of his offense to the 3-point line, like Miami's Wayne Ellington, who takes over 70 percent of his shots from 3-point range. Holiday is averaging 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists with 1.4 steals per game. 

Because of Zach LaVine's ball-dominant role, Holiday has a career-low in terms of usage rate this season (13 percent). This yet another factor that shows how much more effective Holiday can be when playing next to star players (or more accurately players with inredibly high usage rates). This extends to both sides of the floor, though his defensive benefits haven't been on display much on this year's Bulls team.

Holiday's defense doesn’t hold up well against bigger forwards and he has been tasked with guarding players like this (think LeBron James, Tobias Harris, etc.) for much of the last three seasons. This comes from the fact that the last time Holiday wasn’t on the small-forward-thin Bulls, he was playing for the New York Knicks, who had the defensively-challenged Carmelo Anthony and the average, if uninspiring Lance Thomas playing ahead of him.

When Holiday plays on a team with solid perimeter defense, he is allowed to be aggressive and trust his instincts.

In his lone year with Golden State Warriors (small sample size alert) Holiday posted a 3 percent steal rate (a high figure for that metric) and has not achieved a number near that since the 2015-16 season. And while his defense is solid, he is not a game-changer.

The Bulls need game-changers and Holiday is not that. He is a player who would defensively work best on a team with a sound defensive concept, which Chicago does not have. This season there has been more than one moment in which you can see Holiday visibly frustrated with the team's on-court performance. At 29 years old and with less than 15 minutes of playoff experience, it's understandable.


All that being said, if you are adding Holiday to your roster, you aren’t doing it because of his playoff experience (or lack therof) or value on defense. You are adding him for his versatile fit. Holiday has evolved his skill set to the point where he can fit in with almost any team, but he would specifically open things up for some of the teams around the league that consider themselves contenders. Here is a look at the two best fits for Holiday from the Eastern and Western Conference respectively:

Philadelphia 76ers:

Philadelphia has built their successful offense around the talents of Joel Embiid and uber-unique point forward Ben Simmons. Neither player is a above average 3-point shooter, so the offense’s effectiveness comes from the fact that head coach Brett Brown throws out so many capable shooters around the dynamic duo.

This year, the Sixers have taken a step back on offense. This is partly due to the implementation of another non-shooter (Markelle Fultz) to the rotation and partly due to Dario Saric’s shooting from outside falling off of a cliff. They are in need of a bigger fish, but a solid 3-and-D wing would do wonders for their team.

With Philadelphia having enough size to hide players like J.J. Redick, assimilating Holiday would be easy. And just like in Houston, Holiday would be encouraged to shoot from 3-point range more than ever, despite already averaging a career-high in attempts.

If you look at two-man lineup information for the Sixers, the numbers of the Simmons-Fultz combination stand out. The pair currently has a 88.5 offensive rating, dead-last among the Sixers most played two-man groups. That figure would be a catastrophically low number for a modern NBA team, and what it represents is the fact that the Sixers can not sustain a capable offense with those two on the floor together.

Splitting up the amount of time Simmons and Fultz spend on the floor together should be Philadelphia’s top priority this year. And to do that, they need more players who can guard the one-through-three positions on defense while being extremely aggressive from 3-point range. Enter Justin Holiday.

With the Sixers cupboard still full of interesting draft picks despite being a contender, the time would be now for them to acquire additional veteran shooters to push their offense back to 2017-18 levels.

Houston Rockets:

The Rockets re-emerged on the national stage behind the talents of superstar James Harden and their to-the-extreme four-out, one-in offense that features getting up a hefty amount of 3-pointers. As of late, that offense has tailed off, and this is mostly due to the drop off among their group of role players.

After the loss of competitive two-way players like Luc Richard Mbah Moute and Trevor Ariza, the Rockets find themselves hurting in more ways than one.

Houston is still the best team in the league in terms of 3-point attempt rate, but their percentage of 3-point makes has dropped precipitously (33 percent this year vs 36 percent last year).

The absence of James Harden in a couple of games has obviously played a factor, as he was attempting over 8 3-pointers per game when he went down. If Harden's hamstring issues persist longer, Houston will need shooting guard help, unless they want to find themselves desperate for wins upon his return. 

The Rockets have shown that they are willing to give up draft picks in a trade (see the proposed Jimmy Butler deal), and it is almost too easy to see Holiday fitting into their 3-point happy offense and switching defense. If his shooting percentage from deep holds up, Houston and Chicago would make ideal trade partners.