<
>

Jrue Holiday looks, sounds more comfortable

7/6/2010

Jrue Holiday has shaken the nerves.

Following a 10-point, five-assist performance in an NBA Summer League game Tuesday, the former UCLA combo guard and current Philadelphia 76ers point man spoke about his evolution, about his confidence, about becoming a more polished player.

"I'm a lot more comfortable," Holiday said in a postgame interview on NBATV while sitting courtside after the Sixers' win over the Boston Celtics. "That year under my belt has really helped me. I'm trying to be real mellow."

On Monday, Holiday scored 23 points to go along with eight assists.

The 6-foot-4 guard posted respectable numbers as a rookie last season, averaging eight points and 3.8 assists in 24 minutes per game. It wasn't much different from his lone year at UCLA, which ended with a second-round exit from the NCAA Tournament. As a Bruin, Holiday scored 8.5 points and dished out 3.7 assists per game -- numbers that were good enough to make him the 17th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Philadelphia's offense is his offense -- something that could not be said at UCLA, where Darren Collison had control. His current role might have changed drastically had the Sixers landed the No. 1 pick through the lottery, a slot that was eventually filled by fellow point guard John Wall. Instead, the Washington Wizards received the top selection and Philadelphia -- which sent Holiday to the lottery as its representative -- was No. 2 and chose former Ohio State standout Evan Turner.

"He's kind of like a raw Brandon Roy," Holiday said in regards to Turner. "Really calm, especially since last year I was out here real nervous."

Nerves and ball-possession don't mix well, especially for a young, upstart team like Philadelphia. Holiday has the ball in his hands a lot more now, though he admits he needs to become a better decision-maker and passer. Out of bad habit, the 20-year-old from Chatsworth often leaves his feet to pass.

"Every time I do it, I want to beat myself up," he said.

Holiday added that new coach Doug Collins has talked to him about becoming one of the team's leaders, despite his young age and inexperience.

"At the end of the game, [Collins] wants the ball in my hands," Holiday said.

That just wasn't the case during his brief time in Westwood.