On the court, it never crosses Jrue Holiday’s mind.
The Pelicans point guard can play a whole game, he said, and never once think about the threat of hurting himself again, or about his past two injury-shortened seasons.
When the game’s over, though, he considers it “all the time,” Holiday said.
“Obviously, anything can happen,” Holiday said Saturday. “One bad move or something like that, and I could be right back where I started. But I guess I think about it after the fact. When I’m out on the court, obviously I have to go out there and give it my all. If it happens, it happens.”
But after missing a combined 90 games the past two seasons, Holiday — who had his minutes heavily managed early in the season with restrictions on game time and back-to-back games as he recovered from a stress reaction in his right leg — has thrived in his seventh year in the NBA.
Playing primarily off the bench, Holiday is averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 assists per game, and he’s the league leader in points and assists per game as a reserve among players with at least 20 games coming off the bench.
“Right now, I think he’s as good as any sixth man in the league,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “Obviously our record, we’ve struggled, but from his standpoint, he’s as good as any sixth man in the league and should have consideration for (Sixth Man of the Year), I would think.”
Holiday can improve his concentration and consistency, Gentry said, but is in an “elite class” of NBA point guards.
Most importantly, he’s been healthy. Holiday still rarely plays significantly more than 30 minutes per game, and he said he still regularly gets extra treatment after practice. But on the court, he’s over the mental hurdle of his injury history.
“On the court, it doesn’t really matter,” Holiday said. “And I haven’t been feeling it on the court, and that’s been awesome. When I go out there and play, I give it my all.”
Given the Pelicans’ injury troubles, perhaps it’s no surprise that Bryce Dejean-Jones took a pair of hits as soon as he signed a guaranteed contact with the club.
But after cutting his chin and hurting his wrist in a fall during Friday’s win against Philadelphia, Dejean-Jones doesn’t anticipate adding to New Orleans’ list of 161 player games missed to injury.
He expects to play Sunday in Detroit.
“I’m fine,” Dejean-Jones said Saturday. “I just fell. I’m working with the trainer to make sure I’m all right. I didn’t have any problems. Just a couple stitches in my chin. That’s about it.”