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Analyzing the Jrue Holiday-Tim Frazier starting backcourt for the New Orleans Pelicans

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Should it be high-fives all around?

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

In the New Orleans Pelicans last game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Alvin Gentry started Jrue Holiday and Tim Frazier, the team’s two best point guards, together. Although the Pelicans earned an easy victory and the 2-man lineup statistics look promising, there are more things to consider.

Are you happy with Tim Frazier and Jrue Holiday in the starting backcourt? Why or why not?

Kevin:

(Editor’s note: this was written prior to the announcement of Evans’ setback.)

Initially I wasn't a fan of this pairing because I felt it left the second unit with very little play-making. However, with Tyreke's return I'd ease him into the lineup with a bench role — getting him into game shape and adjusted to his new teammates playing the point — and continue with the new starting backcourt. However, I'd make sure that he also shared the court with Holiday for a nice chunk of minutes as well either in a three guard lineup or as a back court mate — as Evans, Holiday and Davis have an incredible net rating in the very limited time they have shared on the court.

Once Evans gets off of his minutes restriction — I'm assuming he will have one initially — I believe he should return to the starting lineup. This could be as a guard or at the three if we still aren't getting anything offensively out of that spot. The minutes should be staggered with Evans and Holiday so that one of them is on the court for at least 90% of the game to help prevent offensive lulls. Tim Frazier has proven himself to be a very nice NBA player, but now that we have an opportunity to fight for the playoffs we need to have our three best players on the court as much as possible. It's also important to see if Evans should be a part of this team going forward — I would love for that to be the case.

Chris:

I am happy that Alvin Gentry, after 1+ seasons, has decided to start Jrue Holiday. Personally, I would prefer to see E’Twaun Moore starting alongside Holiday because that would make for a strong defensive backcourt, but I do not want to ask too much of the head coach all at once.

Jamile:

Yes, for now. It's clear this team is still trying to figure out the best role for everyone. The last couple of weeks have seen the Pelicans make significant progress in this area. I'm not sure if the Frazier/Holiday back court is a long term solution, but given the teams inconsistent three-point shooting, it kind of makes sense to have to creators in the back court.

While Holiday can knock down three's at a good rate, Frazier is a bit shakier from there; however, his ability to break down the defense on the other side of the court from Holiday forces the defense to react and not focus on one ball handler. This should open up the scoring opportunities for the team’s various cutters. Currently Holiday and Frazier have a +19.7 net rating when playing together, so I think Gentry should continue to experiment with this pairing to see just how effective it can be.

David:

No one can really think that's a long term solution, or at least I hope not. For the short term, New Orleans needs to claw itself back into the playoff hunt, so as a long as it works, I expect the coaching staff to stick with it. Long term, either E'Twaun Moore or (please) Buddy Hield should start alongside Jrue Holiday.

Maybe in the meantime this builds some trade value for Tim Frazier, but I am hesitant to suggest actually trading Frazier. If, as many of us suspect, Tyreke Evans is not back next year due to a trade or leaving in free agency, keeping Frazier to captain the second unit is necessary.

Oleh:

The lineup data appears to be in favor of a Frazier-Holiday pairing, but when looking under the hood, it loses it’s punch. Granted, we must consider the sample sizes are really small but we have little else to go by at the moment.

Since Holiday’s return, both he and Frazier’s numbers have been stronger when the other has sat. First, have look at Frazier’s numbers from nbawowy.

PPP eFG% 3FG% Usage % % FGM assisted
Frazier with Holiday 1.02 50.0% 33.3% 12.6% 66.7%
Frazier w/o Holiday 1.06 52.1% 40.0% 22.0% 27.3%

Now, Holiday’s.

PPP eFG% 3FG% Usage % % FGM assisted
Holiday with Frazier 1.00 50.0% 43.8% 29.0% 50.0%
Holiday w/o Frazier 1.16 62.5% 46.2% 30.1% 25.9%

Although it’s important to note they each have performed better when the other has sat, I’m more concerned about the new bench unit. Against the Lakers the Galloway-Moore pairing struggled to get good looks, and I would expect that to continue as neither is a pass-first guard or capable of breaking down their man on command. With Tyreke Evans return pushed back and both Holiday and Frazier proving they’re more effective apart, I would prefer Frazier is supplanted by Moore in the starting lineup for the time being.

Fernando:

I am, for the most part, happy with a Frazier-Holiday starting backcourt. I believe Frazier has proven himself worthy of big, important minutes because he has earned the trust of Gentry, the team and especially Anthony Davis. There are times he tries to do things outside of his ability, but it doesn’t outweigh the positives which to date include a passable defensive effort.

Brett:

Yes, though the sample size on its success is admittedly small. Both Jrue Holiday and Tim Frazier can function well as interchangeable, combo guard types. The idea is to always keep the best five players on the court, and Frazier has often been too good to sit. Moreover, after his hot start, it would be pretty unfair to give his minutes away because Holiday is “not a natural 2.” The Frazier-Holiday combination is the best backcourt for maximizing talent, which should always be Alvin Gentry’s goal.

Travis:

I actually am! I look at it like this: neither is a perfect point guard if you assume the guy next to them is a traditional shooting guard. Since both lean towards combo-guards in their style of play, both benefit. Two playmakers on the floor to start the game sounds good to me. If time proves a need for more shooting, add Moore to the starting lineup and Frazier can shore up the bench unit.