KD says Jrue Holiday earned his respect in the 2018 Playoffs.
Jrue Holiday has never been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team. He’s been named to the All-Defensive second team only two times in his entire NBA career. Yet many, even most of his peers, say he is one of the best defensive players in the league, if not the best.
Kevin Durant, a superstar who is considered one of the most potent scorers in NBA history, is one of those who believes Jrue Holiday to be truly elite on that end of the court.
In a conversation with J.J. Redick at The Old Man & the Three podcast, KD talked about how Holiday earned his respect.
“He could stand out anywhere. You put Jrue in any system, any coach is going to ask him to guard the best player. We played him in 2018, second round and he was guarding me the whole series. He was picking me up full court, He was guarding me on the post, and actually, it was tough to dribble on Jrue Holiday. He slides his feet so well he’s got good hands, he’s strong, and he’s got good instincts. Like I gained a lot of respect for him in that series because he went from guarding me to Steph to Klay to guarding Draymond, neutralizing pick and rolls. He’s special,” Durant admitted.
Jrue earned KDs respect during the 2018 NBA Playoffs
2018 was the year when KD and the Warriors won their second straight NBA title. Golden State finished with the 3rd best record in the NBA that year and was the second seed in the Western Conference side of the playoffs.
In Round 1, Durant averaged 28.2 points per game against the Spurs, but that scoring average dipped to 27.8 per outing in Round 2 against the Pelicans. KD waxed hot in the Conference Finals, scoring 30.4 points per game against the top-seeded Rockets to lead the Dubs back to the Championship round, where they swept LBJ and the Cavs.
Looking at KD’s advanced stats during that 2018 West playoffs run, his offensive ratings in the three series were 117, 113, and 120, respectively. Durant’s true shooting percentages in each series were 60.6%, 58.5%, and 59.6%. In the Finals, KD’s offensive rating went through the roof at 129, and his true shooting percentage was at 65.4% as he won Finals MVP honors for the second consecutive season.
But looking back, KD’s numbers in the second round were noticeably lower than in the other series he played that year. That’s the Jrue Holiday effect.
Players poll validates KDs assessment
But the Jrue Holiday effect has always been just an urban legend, even if the story is coming from someone like KD. Some even treat it as gossip. That has changed just recently.
Earlier this year, the subscription-based sports website The Athletic published the results of a players survey. It polled 108 players and kept them anonymous so they could respond to questions “honestly, and without fear of upsetting teammates, opposing players, league officials, and event fans.”
One of the questions that players was who the best defender in the league is, and not surprisingly, Jrue Holiday was the choice with 28.7% of the total votes. The next player on the list was OKC Thunder’s Lu Dort who only had 11.4%. 2023 DPOY winner Jaren Jackson Jr. only had 4% while the previous season’s winner Marcus Smart only had 8.9% of the votes.
According to the Athletic, one of the players surveyed said this: “He’s literally a guy you avoid. Every offense looks to get the ball away from where he is, both guarding the ball and away from the ball. His hands are unbelievable. It’s always been Jrue Holiday for me.”
In the past, we’ve heard defensive players suffer the D-Rose flu and Melo-itis. Now it’s the turn for offensive players to “avoid the Holiday rush”.