It me, the offseason.
Just when you thought you could take a break from the Knicks, nope. Here you are. Reading about them, consuming them. You can stop, you know.
No you can’t.
Since you’re already here, let’s talk about my favorite (perhaps soon-to-be former) Knick: Justin Holiday. If you’ve ever read any of my recaps on this website, you probably know that I definitely have a crush on Justin Holiday. He was a phenomenal bench player this season, and was one of the only true bright spots in what was an otherwise bleak season.
Holiday was a combo not readily found at MSG: dependable and durable. His silky jump shot, consistent production and willing defense immediately endeared him to the Knick fanbase. It didn’t take long for him to become an offensive (and defensive) catalyst coming off the bench, and he often ignited the second unit by hitting important three-point shots. Remember when the Knicks won all those games in like November? In a lot of those games, solid bench play helped them get just enough separation to hold on for wins. Holiday’s contributions to those wins is well noted. He did exactly what was asked of him. He was a competent 6th man—something the Knicks haven’t had since that time J.R Smith won 6th Man Of The Year.
He averaged a career-high 7.7 points per game despite his comparatively low usage rate. And by comparatively, I mean that his was 16.9 and Sasha Vujacic’s was 17.3. He grabbed 13.1% of defensive rebounds while on the court, highest among guards and a welcome contribution on a team who was mostly pathetic on the d-boards.
Holiday’s positive effect on the Knicks was hard to ignore. His on/off court net differential was +4.8 this year, which is pretty damn good. How good? The best on the team among Knicks with at least 500 minutes played. Notably, he appeared in all 82 of the Knicks games this season, so we can pretty much rule out durability and health as a knock against him.
Holiday came to New York as part of the Derrick Rose deal and, yeah, he was without a doubt the best part of that trade. Not the three-time all-star and former NBA MVP, no. The un-drafted journeyman bench player. It’s better than nothing, right?
Justin frequently scored in double-digits this year, but rarely did he go o-f-f. His season-high in scoring was 20 points, but that came against the Sixers in game no. 82, and we shall not talk about that ever again.
I remember the first time I realized that Holiday was going to be a pretty solid acquisition. It was the 11th game of the year, a home game against the Mavericks on November 14th. Justin dropped 16 points on 6-7 from the field which included 2-3 from deep, he went 2-2 from the free throw line, pulled down 4 rebounds, dished 2 assists and also added a steal and a block in 25 minutes. He was plus-30 in that game. Plus-30!!!! The next-best Knick bench player that night was Brandon Jennings who scored 5 points and had one assist.
(LOL at the description of this first video)
Future in New York
I don't know what to think. Justin has me stuck in the middle of a pretty complicated binary. Objectively...free my dude. As a tragically biased Knick fan, give him a lifetime contract.
I mean, look. Having a fire bench only matters if you also have a good starting unit, and the Knicks just don’t have that right now. Probably won’t for a while, either. That has me thinking: could you imagine Holiday coming off the OKC or Milwaukee bench? I mean, he would have at least helped their respective causes.
He’s a free agent, and had the type of season that will surely get him signed elsewhere—hopefully to bolster a contender’s bench.
His numbers don't suggest a phenomenal, All-Star level player, and that’s because he was never asked to be that. He isn’t an NBA starter; he’s a career backup and has become a quality one. That’s why I like him so much; he consistently came off the bench and provided quality minutes.
Whether he remains a Knick or not, Justin performed admirably in 2016-17.