As the season draws closer, the leaderboard slips into the top 30. For those missing the previous sections, they can be found here and here.
The third group of the NBA’s 50 best players are here, including some of the league’s burgeoning All-Stars. This week we’re looking at 30 to 21.
Let’s get started.
The 50 best players in the NBA: 30. Jrue Holiday
Previous row: 28
Last season was a roller coaster for public perception of Jrue Holidays. After being traded for discussion, it was about the scale of the commercial offer to bring him in. When Giannis Antetokounmpo signed his overtime, Holiday was hailed as the final piece of a title contender who convinced the reigning MVP to stay with his squad. Then throughout the playoffs, he went from fan favorite to scapegoat. However, by the end of the season, he had finally earned the only nickname that mattered: champion.
Not surprisingly, his overall individual production plunged after joining a squad with two other All-Stars and an established culture. He posted a stat line of 17.7 points, 6.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. His defensive prowess worked wonders in the playoffs, ruining the day for many goaltenders en route to the championship for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Going from New Orleans Pelicans to Bucks has been a radical culture shift. He’s gone from trying to be the emotional leader of a young team on the brink of attack for a loaded champion. As has long been the case with Holiday, the individual is not as important as the whole. Lucky for him, and for Milwaukee Bucks fans, he is so good at his role that success is never far away.