At this point in the season, it’s no secret that the Utah Jazz are destined to make some roster-bolstering moves by the February 10th trade deadline. From their deficiencies in perimeter defense to questions about back-up big play, it’s likely the Jazz are going to need multiple trades to fill in the holes on their roster.
There are a wide variety of players Utah could target. But from a value and fit perspective, one player stands out to me: Justin Holiday.
On the season, Holiday’s statistics don’t jump off the page. He’s averaging 10.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 37.2 percent from three. Neither his offensive nor defensive ratings are particularly great, his true shooting percentage is essentially league average at 56.4%, and his rebounding rate leaves much to be desired. But, given that he plays on one of the worst teams in the NBA, this doesn’t surprise me. The Indiana Pacers just aren’t a great; their defense sits towards the bottom of the league and they’re currently one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
So then, what does Holiday provide? For one, he fills the need for size and length on the perimeter. Standing at 6-6 with a wingspan just short of 7-feet, Holiday would immediately walk in as one of Utah’s most versatile defenders. While he only weights 180 pounds, Holliday has spent a nearly identical amount of time defending both guards and forwards this season. He does a solid job of using his length to clog up passing lanes and contest perimeter shooters. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not an All-NBA defender or a ball stopper on the defensive end, but he’s surly better than most of what Utah’s got. He can competently switch on screens, rotate from the weak side, and move his feet.
Watch him stay in front of Zach LaVine and force the turnover here:
Or here, where Holiday makes a good rotation to cover the basket and then recovers to block the three:
Outside of Royce O’Neale, I’m not sure I bet on any of Utah’s perimeter defenders to make these plays. Holiday’s length simply creates defensive advantages that Utah currently doesn’t have. He’s not perfect, but he’s definitely an improvement.
But in my opinion, what makes Holiday an even better fit is his willingness to shoot the ball. The Jazz take around 40.4 three-point attempts per-game, allowing them to fight through poor shooting nights through sheer volume. This is a vital part of their offensive scheme. This season, Holiday has already taken 291 attempts from downtown and is making them at an above league average clip. For reference, from three, Joe ingles has taken 217 attempts, Mike Conley has taken 247, and Jordan Clarkson has taken 382. Plugging Holiday in would not only add a perimeter defender to the team, but would also add someone who isn’t afraid to shoot the ball.
The biggest issue I see with trading for Holiday comes down to contract situations. This season, Holiday is earning around 6 million dollars, making it difficult for Utah to match salaries for a 1:1 trade. To get Holiday on the roster, the Jazz would likely have to work with a third team or add more moving parts. At a reported asking price of two second-round picks, we’ll see if the Jazz feel like he's worth making a move for.