Yes, you read that correctly. The Hawks may have found another diamond in the rough in Justin Holiday. If you remember correctly, two years ago a no-name wing player signed with the Hawks by the name of Demarre Carroll. Carroll bounced around the NBA, never really finding minutes for any of the teams he played on, but Coach Budenholzer and Danny Ferry, the GM at the time, saw something in him. He had heart, hustle, a good shot, and could play great defense. All of these qualities are apparent in the Hawks most recent signing, Justin Holiday, and he will be the next great find for the Hawks.
Holiday spent his first season with the Philadelphia 76ers. He only played in 9 games and had no role on the team. After spending the 2013-2014 season out of the NBA in the ABA League where he averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds in 17 games, Holiday returned as the member of the Golden State Warriors. He appeared in 59 games last season averaging 4.3 points in just over 11 minutes a game. Nothing about those numbers screams impressive, but when taking a deeper look, this signing has all the makings of an under the radar steal.
Holiday has the body type of a prototypical wing defender. He stands at 6 feet 6 inches, but has a 7 foot wingspan. He is long and quick, making him a terrific defender. His defensive game is already there, but what really gets me excited is the potential for his offensive game to skyrocket as a member of the Hawks. In his first two collegiate seasons with the Washington Huskies, Holiday did not have the three-point shot in his arsenal. He only shot 9 total shots from behind the arc and made just one of them. In his junior season he took 30 threes making 10 of them, but by his senior season he progressed into a solid three-point threat, shooting 36% from behind the arc. This kind of notable progression should catch all Hawks fans eyes considering the way Hawks player development has been constantly praised by their players.
With Golden State, Holiday occupied a position in which there was a clear logjam. Guys like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Leandro Barbosa all saw minutes before Holiday. The Warriors were by far the deepest team in the league, so it is no knock on Holiday that he did not receive many minutes. Holiday did receive one start for the Warriors last season. It came on March 13th versus the Denver Nuggets. Holiday started in Klay Thompson’s absence and showed he has the potential to be a good player in the NBA. He put up 23 points and went 5 for 7 from behind the arc. And although he did not play much of a role in the Warriors championship run, he was a part of it. He worked with guys who know what it takes to reach the top of their games, and that should not be taken for granted. Warriors fans did not want to see him go.
Holiday will probably never be a star in the NBA, but he does have the potential to be the Hawks’ next great find. He will probably never be the defensive stud that Carroll was, but his offensive game has the potential to be much better than Carroll’s. Carroll said in his goodbye letter to Atlanta, “Early in my career, I would only get spot minutes on different teams. Being in that situation, scared of making a mistake that would cost me my job, I would always play tight and nervous. I didn’t feel like I had the ability to be myself on the floor.” In Holiday’s career so far he has received nothing but spot minutes, but with Atlanta and their current lack of wing players, he will be given the opportunity to earn minutes and perhaps the starting job. With the opportunity there and the best player development team in the NBA available to him, Holiday will thrive in Atlanta and take his game to the next level. The Hawks found their next Demarre Carroll in Justin Holiday.