Justin Holiday has been stuffing the stat sheet in hopes for a 10-day contract - Otto Kitsinger, NBAE/Getty Images
There is no hotter player in the NBA D-League than Justin Holiday of the Idaho Stampede right now. Undrafted out of the University of Washington in 2011, Holiday's game seems to be at an all-time high as he leads the Portland Trail Blazers' NBA D-League affiliate down their home stretch, and positions himself for an NBA Call-Up.
Justin Holiday has ripped off four 30-plus point games in his last six contests for the Idaho Stampede. The 6-6, 180 pound guard has stuffed the stat sheet as of late, helping his team reel off three straight wins, and looks to finish the season strong. Holiday's impressive play comes at a perfect time as NBA teams seem to be handing out 10-day contracts as teams look to fill gaps heading into their final stretch.
Holiday, or "J-Holla" as he is commonly known, believes that his recent string of jaw dropping totals are a product of the mentality in which he brings to the court every single day. Holiday spoke with RidiculousUpside.com and explained, "I always play aggressively, it just took one game for me to realize that I can put these kind of numbers up while helping the team win. I don't go out there trying to score 30 points, but I realize now that I'm capable of it, and if the team needs me to do so I'm willing to go there."
Holiday and the Stampede are on the longest road trip of their season, and will wrap up the trip in Santa Cruz against the Warriors. At the start of their trip (which assistant head coach and former NBA veteran Scott Williams has hash-tagged #odyssey via his Twitter account) Holiday scored closer to his season average (15.8 points), he dropped in 17 points and grabbed 6 rebounds as the team lost in overtime to the Reno Bighorns. Since then, Holiday has averaged 28 points over six games, and leads the NBA D-League in scoring during that stretch. He has also averaged 7.8 rebounds, and 4.7 steals as well.
After the start of their road trip, the Stampede added new faces to the team by picking up Mustapha Farrakhan, JaJuan Johnson, and Reggie Hamilton. When asked if perhaps the new blend of teammates has propelled Holiday to his recent success, Holiday said, "we have some new guys, but our offense has remained the same. We've done a great job of playing together quickly and as a single unit."
After dropping their first four games, the Stampede have rallied to win three straight, and have the opportunity to end their 8-game journey .500. Holiday's play is largely the reason for the team's turnaround out on the road. However, it has been Holiday's ability to shine at both the offensive and defensive end which has propelled the team to victories. Holiday sports a 7-1 wingspan which wreaks havoc on the opposing team's ability to pass the ball in a set offense. Holiday leads the D-League in steals per game, averaging 2.3 per contest.
Holiday downplayed his unique ability to rob opposing player's possession of the ball, and attributed it to his team's defensive nature. "My steals are a result of the team as a whole getting more stops defensively. It happens naturally because of our ability to lock down on the defensive end. I play aggressive defense, but so does our entire team. It's a good combination." Holiday said.
Holiday's skill set ranges from a feisty defensive menace to an incredibly deadly shooter from beyond the arc ( 40% 3pt avg). Holiday was selected to perform in the 3-point contest at NBA D-League All-Star Weekend and placed second to another long range assassin, and sibling to an infamous NBA player, Marcus Landry. Once again, Holiday humbly deferred his high percentage 3-point shooting as more of a result of his team's offensive efficiency. "Like getting steals on defense, my 3-point shooting is just a result of what's happening for the team right now. I know that I can knock down the open shot, but my teammates are doing a good job of putting me in position to do so."
As NBA teams search for more 10-day contract recipients, Holiday is positioning himself as a worthy candidate. On the season Holiday is averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks. He can provide teams with a versatile guard option who can play both sides of the ball. Holiday feels like his game is NBA ready, and that he can contribute right now. "I thought that I can play at the NBA level even before this stretch of games, I think anyone in our league should feel that way, that's why we're here. If it doesn't happen now than I'm going to keep on playing and keep on trying to get to the NBA, that's my main goal." Holiday said.
Holiday's goal to play in the NBA is becoming a close reality as he continues to showcase his wide range of talent. His unique services should be scooped up by any NBA team looking to add depth at the guard position. Timing is everything, and Holiday may be establishing his position on NBA team's radars at just the right moment.