(Photo courtesy of celticsblog.com) “Point guard Jrue Holiday in his new Celtics jersey.”
Following the Damian Lillard trade, the Boston Celtics acquired star point guard Jrue Holiday from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for center Robert Williams, point guard Malcolm Brogdon and two future first-round picks (2024 pick via GSW and 2029 unprotected pick), per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
For Portland’s side, Williams will be a critical part of their young core, as he fits their current timeline. However, expect Brogdon to get traded to a contender, as Portland is in rebuild mode. Per Charania, teams like the Los Angeles Clippers have previously shown interest in Brogdon.
After giving up veteran point guard Marcus Smart in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, Boston looked to replace the talents of the former Defensive Player of the Year. Boston gets a point guard, Holiday, who is arguably just as good, if not better, than Smart defensively, but also one that provides more on the offensive side of the ball.
Smart’s questionable decision-making and turnovers have hurt Boston’s offense in the playoffs. Smart is a streaky shooter, evidenced by his career 32.3 percent shooting from three. Not to mention, his defense regressed last season as he didn’t make an All-Defensive team.
Holiday, 33, averaged 19.3 points, 7.4 assists on 47.9 percent field goal shooting, 38.4 percent from 3-point plays and made the All-Defensive First Team last year. These numbers are a stark contrast from Smart’s averages of 11.5 points on just 41.5 percent field goal shooting and 33.6 percent from 3-point plays. His career 3-point play percentage is 36.6 percent. When it comes to decision-making, playmaking and scoring, Holiday is an upgrade over Smart.
With Holiday in the fold, star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should have an easier time against defenses. Since Holiday will be a primary ball-handler, Tatum and Brown won’t have to handle the ball as much, limiting their turnovers. Per StatMuse, Tatum and Brown led the playoffs in total turnovers in back-to-back seasons, contributing to Boston’s playoff struggles. Holiday has a championship pedigree, as he helped Milwaukee win the championship in 2021. Deep in the playoffs, his winning intangibles may be the difference for Boston’s title hopes. After all, Boston is now tied at +380 with Milwaukee as the odds-on favorites to win it all, according to FanDuel.
Boston led the playoffs in total turnovers the past two seasons, and having a true point guard in Holiday helps alleviate those problems. While Smart was the “heart and soul” of the team, Boston simply needed an upgrade at the point guard position to get over the hump in the playoffs.
Giving up Williams and Brogdon might be tough losses, but both have been injury-prone throughout their careers. While Brogdon won Sixth Man of the Year, he was ineffective in the playoffs due to a nagging partially torn tendon in his right elbow/forearm. Also, besides scoring, he doesn’t provide much as a defender or playmaker. Williams is a defensive stud but doesn’t provide much as a floor spacer or scorer. With Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford in the frontcourt, Boston can use their $6.2 million trade exception to acquire a good backup center.
Trading for Holiday was worth the steep price, as he helps put Boston’s talented roster over the hump. With these big trades, one may wonder how Boston and Milwaukee will look with their retooled rosters. A potential Eastern Conference Finals between these two juggernauts would be great for the ratings.