The 2018 NBA Draft is just around the corner, and the Portland Trail Blazers will be looking to boost their talent pool with their lone first round pick. UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday is under the microscope, as his offensive gifts and NBA pedigree should grab the attention of the Blazers if he is still available at pick No. 24.
- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 187
- Wingspan: 6’6”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: PG
- Age: 21
- Projected draft range: 13-38
- PPG: 20.3 | Per 40: 21.6
- APG: 5.8 | Per 40: 6.2
- STL: 1.3 | Per 40: 1.4
- RPG: 3.7 | Per 40: 3.9
- FG%: 46.1
- 3P%: 42.9
Being effective with or without the ball is crucial for today’s NBA point guards, and Holiday possesses the skills to thrive at both. Holiday has thrived as both a shooter and facilitator over the course of his career at UCLA. Holiday’s form is quick and compact, which allows him to score quickly off screens and step-back shots. Along with his outside shooting, the 21-year-old point guard is capable of snaking through a defense by keeping his defenders off balance with his crafty footwork. Once a defender is on his hip, he is proficient at getting to the free throw line by drawing contact.
Despite owning a 6-foot-6 wingspan, questions surround Holiday’s defensive ability. Due to a lack of explosive athleticism, he must rely on positioning, a trait that could be exploited when facing NBA competition. Outside of his physical limitations, Holiday has a habit of delivering his passes without the adequate amount of zip on them. If that habit continues, it could result in missed opportunities and costly turnovers. Like some of his point guard counterparts in his draft range, Holiday’s age will raise questions about his ceiling.
Holiday’s offensive exploits were on full display last season at UCLA. After taking a backseat to Lonzo Ball in his sophomore year, Holiday finished the year leading the Pac-12 in points per game. His most impressive stretch of the season came in early-March, as he strung together consecutive 34-point games against USC and Stanford. Even with his steady hand running the offense, the Bruins were unable to advance past the Saint Bonaventure Bonnies in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament.
With brother Jrue and Justin already in the NBA, it appears that Aaron is next in line to carve out a niche in the league. Holiday has the all the tools to be useful offensive player immediately, but his defensive deficiencies will determine his role with his future team. If he can put his impressive wingspan to work, he could become a functional starter. If his defense never advances, Holiday could still make a living as an offense-first backup guard.
The Blazers could easily be priced out of Shabazz Napier’s services this summer, which could raise the demand for a reliable third guard on the roster. Holiday would be a nice consolation prize, and he could easily blossom into a starter capable of playing alongside either one of Portland’s talented starting guards. The same issues would exist on the defensive end for coach Terry Stotts, as size would be an issue. If he lands with Portland at pick No. 24, the Blazers would be selecting a proven player that would stabilize the second unit if Napier bolts in the offseason.
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