What More Does NBA D-League Guard Justin Holiday Need to Do to Earn Call-Up?

Stephen Dunn

Justin Holiday and the Idaho Stampede may have had a rough start to the season, but his most recent elevated efforts has earned Idaho a few extra victories and likely garnered him some more individual attention as well.

At just 15-30, the Idaho Stampede hold the second-worst record in all of the NBA D-League.

The team might have gotten off to a rough start earlier in the year, but this season has nevertheless still had its own respective highlights for the Boise squad. The Stampede have still hosted a couple of Blazers' assignees in town, and have most recently served as as the home of one of the NBADL's most promising young guns.

That, of course, would be guard Justin Holiday. Since the D-League All-Star break, Holiday has taken the league by storm, elevating his game to another level as he emerges as a steady leader and looks like quite a starring attraction.

In addition to scoring 25 points or more in eight of his last fourteen games, Holiday's month of March is the type of month that had he been playing with that intensity all season long, he would have surely been included in M.V.P. talks throughout this season.

In this month alone, the guard has averaged 22.7 points (on 46% from the field and 48% from deep), 5.6 rebounds, and an eye-popping 3.3 steals per contest. One would have a tough time finding a better player in the league over these last few weeks.

There's no doubt Holiday (the brother of 76ers' All-Star Jrue Holiday) has been turning heads and garnering more attention as of late. But will it all be worth it?

The guard's task of earning an NBA call-up may prove to be more difficult than it should be, given the fact that Idaho hasn't been a winning ball club. Talking to most players around the league, it's clear that the vast majority of them value winning (even in the minors) very highly, and consider being a part of a winning environment vital to their success and crucial to any potential promotion.

Holiday's inability to lead his team to more victories earlier in the season may have held him back from earning an All-Star nod last month in Houston. Nevertheless, it's undeniable that he is also playing at a much higher level over the last handful of contests. Despite this, however, he still made the trip to Houston to participate in the NBADL Three-Point Contest.

Holiday's one of the best long-range shooters in all of the minors, but the fact remains he's one of the more versatile talents in all of the league. In addition to being able to make it rain from deep, the guard is as athletic as they come and can be trusted to lock down some of the better opposing offensive players.

That said, Idaho's record likely remains a thorn in Holiday's side. But there's a catch.

Iowa Energy guard Chris Wright not only earned himself a spot on the All-Star team last month, but also just finished playing out a ten-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Despite Iowa's 11-35 record, Wright;s masterful and flashy playmaking was enough to get him noticed.

What's more, though the Stampede don't exactly stand tall with the most respective record, the fact is Holiday's latest elevated efforts has made a difference. Heading into Monday's night's matchup with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the guard had still managed to lead Idaho to a 5-6 record in the month of March.

It may not look like much, but for a team otherwise struggling to pile up the wins, Holiday's strong play this month has undeniably been a game-changer. He can't be expected to do it alone, but over the last few games or so, he pretty much has anyway.

Whether or not that'll be enough for an NBA executive or two to pick up on by the end of the regular season (or even looking ahead towards NBA Summer League) remains to be seen.

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