The Wizards acquired a collection of NBA veterans this offseason who all had reasons to embrace a fresh start. Aaron Holiday would count among them, as he enters the final year of his rookie scale contract following a reduction in his role last season in Indiana.
Through four preseason games with the Wizards, Holiday looked like a guy who is ready to hit the ground running in the regular season. He had 17 points and four assists against the Rockets in the opener and also 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists against the Knicks in the finale.
Those were the two games he logged heavy minutes, as head coach Wes Unseld Jr. mixed up the rotation to experiment with lineups.
"I think it’s just a microcosm of what we’ve seen thus far [in games and practice]," Unseld Jr. said. "His minutes have kind of fluctuated, we’ve been playing different groups and different combinations. But this opportunity was great, he made the best of it."
Holiday didn't have much to say about his own performance after the Wizards' final preseason game on Friday night in New York. He attributed his scoring outburst to simply "staying aggressive."
Holiday had much more to say about how the Wizards' bench is shaping up. Throughout the preseason, he was on the floor with Raul Neto, Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans and Montrezl Harrell.
Holiday believes they can make a major impact this season.
"We have a very deep team, so our second unit can really get out there and play. We make shots, we shoot the ball at a high level. We can play defense. So, it’s pretty much pick your poison once we get out there," Holiday said.
Holiday went on to mention the second unit has multiple ball-handlers, as Avdija can be a play-maker at the three. Holiday believes that will help the Wizards' bench attack in transition.
Though it was a small sample size, Holiday showed some encouraging signs as a shooter in the preseason, knocking down 42.9% from three. He made 39.4% from three two years ago, but last season that dropped to 36.8%.
Holiday and Neto appear to be the projected bench backcourt for the Wizards this season with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in place as the starting three. The two guards bring similar qualities in their tough defense and ability to shoot.
By having them both in the second unit instead of trading off in a point guard rotation, the Wizards can play each of them more minutes. Neto proved worthy of a larger role last season and Holiday may be on track to do the same.