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Jrue Holiday about to turn things around — according to recent history

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Slow starts are nothing new, but neither is the fact that Holiday finds his stride shortly thereafter!

New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Jrue Holiday simply hasn’t resembled Jrue Holiday out there on the basketball court for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Through his first four games this season, Holiday is averaging a paltry 14 points per contest on frigid 34.9% shooting conditions from the field. That’s a far cry from the All-Star worthy numbers witnessed in the last two years, so it’s not surprising that social media is abuzz with messages like “what’s up with Jrue?” to the more extreme “the Pelicans need to trade Holiday.”

Memo to all fans and media: everyone needs to relax for a moment because if history is any faithful guide Jrue is about to flip the switch and look more like his old dominant self.

For whatever the reason, Holiday has proven to be a perennial slow starter. Don’t believe me? Have a look at his numbers through the first four games over the last five seasons below. We’ve consistently seen Jrue get off to the most inconsistent of beginnings.

PPG thru games 1-4 FG% 3PT%
2019-20 14.0 36.2% 34.8%
2018-19 14.8 36.8% 16.7%
2017-18 11.3 34.0% 18.8%
2016-17 16.3 48.1% 28.6%
2015-16 13.0 37.5% 38.5%
2014-15 14.5 44.2% 29.4%

Before pointing out the 2016-17 season to me, realize that Holiday missed the first 12 games of that campaign to be with his family. Lauren, his wife, was in the midst of a medical crisis. Doctors eventually decided to induce labor early so that she could have her surgery date moved up to remove a benign brain tumor. Fortunately, everything went according to plan, but Jrue didn’t appear in his first game until Nov. 18 — there were no team opening night jitterbugs, Pelican teammates feeling each other out in their first regular season minutes of action, etc. Moreover, Holiday had just endured the greatest scare of his life so who cares about suiting up and playing basketball for 48 minutes.

Despite this outlier though, Holiday’s statistical production through the first four games over the last six seasons now stands at a hair below 14 points per game, a 39.4 field goal percentage and a 27.7 three-point percentage.

That’s beyond woeful, for sure, but now that you’re all glum and dead inside, I’m here to tell you that we should expect Holiday to suddenly mirror a more assertive and efficient version of himself. Like perhaps as soon as tonight against the Brooklyn Nets.

PPG thru games 5-8 FG% 3PT%
2019-20 ? ? ?
2018-19 19.8 47.5% 26.3%
2017-18 18.5 58.5% 37.5%
2016-17 16.0 47.2% 55.6%
2015-16 11.4 45.0% 36.4%
2014-15 18.0 51.9% 41.7%

As you can see from the data, Holiday typically shines immediately after his first four games played. Again, who knows why precisely this is, but his production jumps to 16.8 points per game, a 50.2 field goal percentage and a 39.5 three-point percentage in games 5-8 on his schedule. (In addition, I should note that this 16.8 point average could be higher as in 2015-16 he posted 11.4 PPG in about 21 minutes per contest.)

Following the loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 25, Holiday said to postgame media: “No, I feel like we go through this every year, especially with me. It’s just timing. New lineups, new situations, new team.”

The start of Holiday’s 2019-20 season has been a carbon copy of previous years, but if history is any indication, he’s about to go on a tear of sorts. That would be a most welcome development for Alvin Gentry, whose Pelicans currently sport a 1-5 record, with four of those losses coming in crunch time. If the games can remain competitive throughout but now Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and gang can rely on a much more efficient Holiday, maybe the New Orleans Pelicans can turn this ship around well before Zion Williamson returns to action.