Philadelphia 76ers Stat Monkey Brief: Sixers/Jazz (11/16/12)

Jrue Holiday may just be the key to the Sixers' success moving forward, according to Brett Weisband.

For the first time in his young career, Jrue Holiday is the Sixers’ primary ball-handler. With the ink still drying on his new 4-year, $41 million contract, it’s pretty clear that Holiday will be the man running the point in Philly for the foreseeable future. With the current emphasis on the point guard position throughout the league, Holiday is going to play a huge role in the team’s success going forward. So, how’s he been doing in his first eight games as the Sixers’ lead dog, and what is he going to have to do to improve their fortunes?

The Numbers

Jrue’s numbers are up across the board, some good and some bad. He’s fourth in the league in assists at 8.8 a game, and he’s assisting on 45 percent of teammates’ field goals while he’s on the floor (know as assist percentage), which puts him above NBA luminaries Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams. He’s shooting better from the field and three-point range over last season while getting to the free throw line nearly 2.5 times more per game than his career average (4.8 to 2.0). Naturally, those last three improvements have led to an increase in scoring as well.

The bad news is that Holiday is turning the ball over at an ungodly rate. Through eight games, he’s giving it away 5.4 times per game. His turnover percentage (turnovers per 100 possessions) is sitting at 24.1. Those numbers are brought down by his performance against Detroit, where he turned the ball over only once. Prior to that, he had turned the ball over seven or more times in four straight.

Avoid the blues against the Jazz

Without Andrew Bynum, the Sixers are ridiculously outgunned in the front court matched up with the Jazz. Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown are going to struggle to hold their own against the Utah’s four-deep big man rotation, so the backcourt is going to have to pick up the slack.

There is one obvious way for Holiday to improve - take better care of the ball. The Jazz currently rank 12th in the league in opponents’ turnovers per game, so they’re not exactly the biggest ball hawks in Association. Holiday also needs to cut down on the mid-range shots and launch more threes. Over the Sixers’ last three games, he’s put up a total of only three three-point tries (hitting two), while forcing too many tough mid-range jumpers. When you’re hitting 45% from deep, there’s no reason to not shoot threes more often.

Obviously, Philadelphia will need contributions from some other struggling players (looking at you, Evan Turner, Nick Young and Dorrell Wright), but their point man will have to kick it into gear for the Sixers to get rolling.