In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 34 picks.
Today’s edition examines UCLA guard Aaron Holiday.
The NBA is going on Holiday this summer as a third brother is set to enter the fold. Aaron Holiday is a 6-1 guard out of UCLA that, much like his brothers, is solid in many aspects of basketball.
After averaging 20 points in his junior season with the Bruins, Holiday proved he is NBA-ready. He has grown into his body, which was a concern coming out of his freshman season in which there was some thought he might try to enter the NBA Draft, and he has also grown mentally in his game.
Let’s take a deeper look into some of Holiday’s biggest strengths and weaknesses.
Holiday checked in at 6’1 and 187 lbs at the NBA Draft Combine. Given that he is a point guard first, he brings is a solid frame, but what really helps him separate into a possible late first rounder or early second rounder is his great wingspan at 6’8. Holiday’s great wingspan makes him a great candidate to become a defensive stopper at the point position and he’ll only help his case for that as he continues to add muscle at the next level.
Beyond that, Holiday is known for his three point shooting prowess, and deservedly so, after he shot 43 percent this season from beyond the arc. In fact, over Holiday’s three year career at UCLA, he never once shot under 41 percent from three. He’s just a fantastic shooter in general at the ripe young age of 21, as his true shooting percentage was nearly 61 percent (!) which is outrageous for a guard who takes as many shots as Holiday does.
Holiday is also a workhorse as he played nearly 38 minutes a game this season and has averaged more than 31 minutes now twice at UCLA. He’s not afraid to be physical defensively and uses his wingspan to get into passing lanes as evidenced by his 1.3 steals per game this season. Holiday also moves the ball well despite some turnover questions as shown by his nearly six assists per game.
As mentioned above, despite Holiday averaging nearly six assists per game, there are some question marks about his decision making thanks to a downright ugly four turnovers per game. This was not entirely Holiday’s fault, though, as UCLA played with a quick tempo and Holiday’s teammates did not show off the best hands while trying to catch his passes ahead on the break this season.
Another question mark in Holiday’s game is his size, even given his lengthy wingspan. Holiday may not be a perfect pure point guard and, because of that, he’ll need to maximize his ability by continuing to knock down perimeter shots, while also serving as a strong secondary facilitator in an NBA offense.
Overall, there are more strengths to Holiday’s game than weaknesses, which you would expect from a third year player in college. He would be a very reasonable pick for a Hawks team in need of help at point guard with the No. 30 or No. 34 picks.
Some outlets have Holiday slotted slightly lower in the early-to-mid second range, though others have him potentially landing in the top 20. It would be a bit of a reach to consider him with the No. 19 pick but Holiday does check many of the boxes the Hawks would potentially be looking for in a point guard with his shooting profile and defensive aptitude.
Whichever team drafts Holiday will be getting a solid player who can be plugged and played from day one. He looks to be one of the best five shooters in the draft and, with his other skills, Holiday is an intriguing prospect. Time will tell if the Hawks think as highly of Holiday as I do.