A couple years ago the Philadelphia 76ers looked like an up-and-coming team — Doug Collins had them playing good defense, they had Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner to go with Andre Iguodala. There was some reason for hope… then the gamble on Andrew Bynum went bad. Very bad.
Now the Sixers are rebuilding and Holiday was shipped out to New Orleans.
The first time a player is traded it’s kind of an emotional hit — you know the NBA is a business but then it really hits home.
“It was like five minutes, to be honest,” Holiday said. “After I got the call and they said I got traded, I immediately thought about [Sixers guard] Evan Turner. We’d been through everything together in Philly, really grown up together in the league in Philly along with Thad Young, Spencer Hawes and those guys, But then I thought about it and it was like, ‘oh snap, Eric Gordon‘s on your team. Anthony Davis is on your team. Ryan Anderson, Austin Rivers and at the time [Robin] Lopez. This could be crazy.’ They sent me to a good team. This could be a blessing in disguise.”
Lopez is gone and Tyreke Evans is in, but the idea remains the same — the Pelicans are now a team on the rise. New Orleans will be better than last season and they could be a playoff team if they come together. They have an All-Star point guard in Holiday and a guy who was one of the stars of the Team USA mini-camp in Anthony Davis (who is going to take a leap forward this season, and he was better than people realized last season).
This is a good landing spot. He could well be with another fast rising team, one that will be tested in a deep West, but Holiday is right this may well be a blessing. And in not much of a disguise.
“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.