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Jrue Holiday making Anthony Davis better is not a recent phenomenon

Recent reports have a strong basis in historical performance. Going beyond just this season.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In recent weeks much has been written about the pairing of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Justin Verrier went deep into the numbers for ESPN in late February. Tom Haberstroh dedicated TrueHoopTV's Big Number to how well Holiday and Davis work together just the day before. Just last week I covered how well Holiday has set up Davis for success. Nearly all of this analysis has focused on this season, where the New Orleans Pelicans as a team have been awful. What if we extend our look further into the past. Is this synergy a recent phenomenon?

Most decidedly not.

Thanks to NBAwowy we can see how Holiday effects Davis in each of the last two seasons. In both cases (2015-16 and 2014-15) Davis scores more points and does so far more efficiently. Yes, even much better than the famed 18-11 stretch last season that put the Pelicans in the playoffs.

Notice that two key contributors to that run, Eric Gordon and Quincy Pondexter, are currently out for the season. Who knew two players shooting 40%+ behind the arc would help? Also, Omer Asik has gone from solid contributor (thanks again Gordon and Pondexter for spacing) to non-entity in the rotation.

Season MIN PTS/36 REB/36 AST/36 eFG% TS%
Davis w/ Holiday 2015-16 1095 25.6 10.9 1.7 54.8% 59.9%
Davis w/out Holiday 2015-16 1023 23.0 9.8 2.1 46.9% 50.8%
Davis w/ Holiday 2014-15 1110 24.8 10.4 1.9 57.3% 62.5%
Davis w/out 2014-15 1345 23.8 10.0 2.4 50.7% 56.0%

Thanks to NBAwowy

Holiday makes Davis better, it is clear. What about the Pelicans as a whole? Let's check the advanced stats as well.

PTS/36 REB/36 AST/36 eFG% TS% ORtg DRtg Net
Improvement w/ Holiday 2015-16 2.7 1.1 -0.4 7.9% 9.1% 8.1 -2.5 10.6
Improvement w/ Holiday 2014-15 1.0 0.4 -0.5 6.6% 6.5% 1.5 0.3 1.2

Note: a negative DRtg is a positive development as the Pelicans allow fewer points

This season, thanks to injuries ravaging the Pelicans, Holiday's impact with Davis has been amplified significantly. Alvin Genty choosing to bring Jrue Holiday off the bench from December to early March, sunk the Pelicans starting lineups with disastrous effects to AD's stat line and efficiency.

However, even last year, when the team was much better, Holiday continued to have a significant positive impact. AD's PER dropped in February, March, and April after Holiday went down. A 31.6 PER (the record is 31.8 set by Wilt Chamberlain) before the All-Star Game when Davis logged 65% of his minutes with Holiday compared to a 28.8 PER (still awesome) after the All-Star Game when just 5% of his minutes were with Jrue.

Davis and Holiday work well together and have made the Pelicans better, despite the waves of injuries. However, this is not unique to this season. This summer Dell Demps (or possibly a new GM) will have the task of building around Davis and Holiday.

A foundation is in place. Now build a winning organization around Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Before it's too late.