Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers

There may have been a twinge of emotion Friday when the Trail Blazers opened their 2018 draft workouts at the team’s practice facility.

Headlining the first group of workouts was a familiar name that led to the Blazers’ playoff demise – Holiday.

Aaron Holiday, a 6-foot-1 point guard from UCLA, and the younger brother of New Orleans standout Jrue Holiday – was probably the most marquee name among the six prospects who worked out. 

Holiday said the Blazers are the fourth team he has worked out for, and judging from his previous stops – Washington (15thpick), Phoenix (16thpick) and Atlanta (19th) – the Blazers (24thpick) might be overestimating their chances at landing the Pac-12’s leading scorer from last season. 

Holiday was one of six prospects to take part in Friday’s workout, joining Duke wing Gary Trent Jr., Ohio State wing  Keita Bates-Diop, Tulane wing Melvin Frazier, Villanova guard Jalen Brunson and Louisville forward Raymond Spalding.

The night before the workout, Trent said he, Holiday and Frazier were dined by Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations. 

Although Holiday is an undersized guard, and would potentially be joining a Blazers backcourt with undersized guards in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, he said he thinks he can help. 

After all, he got an up-close viewpoint during the 2018 NBA Playoffs, when he watched his brother and the Pelicans dispatch the Blazers in four games. Holiday said he was in attendance for one of the games in the Moda Center as well as Game 3 and 4 in New Orleans.

 

“They are a good team, but obviously they have some missing pieces, hence to how they lost this year,’’ Holiday said. “But they are a really good team, very well coached, very well balanced, so I think they are overall pretty good.’’

He said he could envision playing alongside either of the Blazers’ accomplished guards. 

“I can play with Dame … CJ … on the court at the same time. Doesn’t matter who is out there,’’ Holiday said. “I can play off people and play off the ball as well.’’

Holiday played three seasons at UCLA, breaking out this season, when he averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds. He shot better than 41 percent from three-point range in all three seasons and finished his college career as a 42.2 percent three-point shooter. 

Plus, he is quick to note his defense, and how he prioritizes it within his overeall game.

“That’s the main point – being able to play defense,’’ Holiday said.

He was able to showcase his complete game as a junior, after spending his first two seasons playing behind Lorenzo Ball and Bryce Alford.

“The first two years I wasn’t able to have the ball in my hands … then last year I was able to run the show,’’ Holiday said. 

His brother Jrue, with sometimes unstoppable offense and smothering defense, was one of the main factors in derailing the Blazers’ season. Another older brother, Justin, also played in the NBA. It helped form a competitive household, and a character-building series of games between the siblings.

“That taught me how to be tough,’’ Holiday said of playing against his siblings. “They are bigger than me, stronger than me back in the day. My sister played (at UCLA) as well … so it taught me toughness. I didn’t win many games out there – I got a few in – but taught me to fight no matter what.’’