Undrafted out of the University of Washington, Justin Holiday spent last season playing for Aalstar in Belgium and now has the chance to crossover to the NBA after the Portland Trail Blazers claimed the 6'6 forward off of waivers on Friday.
It's official -- Justin Holiday is trying to steal Christopher Copeland's NBA thunder.
Back in mid-July, Copeland made the overseas jump from Belgium to the New York Knicks by signing a non-guaranteed deal after a stellar year playing for Aalstar in the Belgian League. Undrafted out of Colorado and following stints in Spain, Germany and the D-League, the the 6-foot-8, 224-pound forward averaged 21.8 points and 5.5 rebounds last season for Aalstar in 33 games and now has the chance to earn a roster spot with the Knicks.
A teammate of Copeland's in Belgium, Holiday went from undrafted out of the University of Washington to coming off of the bench for Aalstar where the 6'6 forward put up 7.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 33 games. One of the premier teams in Belgium, Aalstar also competed in EuroChallenge where Holiday shot 44% from beyond the arc in 12 games. And while there are a number of on-court (and off court for that matter) adjustments to make from playing in Europe to the NBA, Holiday showed enough to secure a job with the Philadelphia 76ers in the Orlando Summer League.
Talk about keeping it in the family -- Holiday is the older brother of Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday.
"I always expect more of myself, but I think I'm doing all right," Justin, 23, said at the time.
"The only thing that matters is that you come out here and work hard, and I think I've been doing that. You make some mistakes here and there, but that's basketball. It happens."
Unfortunately what happened next after impressing in Orlando was bitter sweet for Holiday. After signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Cavs waived him earlier in the week leaving the door wide open for Portland to take a closer look at the versatile forward by claiming him of waivers. And that really is the lowdown on Holiday's game: athletic and possessing the ability to mix it up inside or out, Holiday gives Portland another option in the front court to evaluate during training camp. Besides, his 7'0 wingspan is also enticing for a 6'6 guy who can cover a lot a of ground.
Holiday is going to have to really battle for a spot with the Blazers.
This much is true.
But if anything is certain from his travels from Washington, to Belgium, to Orlando Summer League, to Cleveland and now with Portland, Justin Holiday isn't afraid of a little hard work and the chance to show he belongs.