Latest posts by Ben Stinar (see all)
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INDIANAPOLIS — Aaron Holiday has a great amount of confidence, even for a rookie. Just by watching the 6-foot-1 guard play it can be felt. His supreme confidence should be no surprise, either, in college at UCLA he was the team’s leader, averaging more than 20 points and nearly six assists per game his senior season.
He is also the younger brother of NBA All-Star Jrue Holiday, and Memphis Grizzlies’ Justin Holiday. Unfortunately, his rookie season for the Indiana Pacers has not been talked about nearly as much as his fellow rookies, because there has not been much opportunity.
However, it’s not like he was a second-round pick, he was the 23rd overall pick in the NBA Draft last summer.
The problem with the Pacers was they have so many good guards that there was not a lot of minutes to go around for the rookie. Cory Joseph, Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans and of course, Victor Oladipo, were all in his way.
Recently, his minutes have quickly risen, but on the season he is playing just 12.5 minutes per contest. Not nearly enough to truly showcase his full skillset.
“It’s obviously tough waiting because you want to play,” he said. “Eventually, I knew I was gonna get my turn I just have to be ready whenever that time came.”
The veterans took potential minutes from him, but he has also learned from them how to be a professional.
“Obviously, it’s my first year so everything’s new to me,” he said. “Just watching them get out there, play, how they keep their pace in practice, playing against them, how they play, pretty much know the game I guess.”
A lot of rookies can end up on young, losing teams without a real veteran presence. In Indiana, that is far from the case, this is a veteran-driven team, and rookies have to be up to speed or they won’t be needed to play.
On teams such as this, there are typically an abundance of players who can get the job done rather than having to worry about a rookie making silly mistakes. It can make a player grow up faster.
“At the end of the day, they’re going to help me out if I need it,” he said. “If I went to some other team where there’s not many vets, I obviously would be playing and learning on the fly.”
Being a rookie also comes with the infamous rookie duties. Nothing crazy, but he has to bring donuts to the players before they fly to a road game.
“I had to get donuts for every plane ride,” he said.
The specific kind of donuts?
”Blueberry and glazed,” he said.
It’s been a relatively uneventful rookie season for the promising point guard prospect, but over the last three games he is averaging a very respectable 9.3 points and 4.0 assists in about 26 minutes per game.
He’s also shooting 50 percent from 3-point range in those games, and 83 percent from the free-throw line on the season. When given the opportunity, he’s shown that he has the potential to be a very good guard in the NBA, just like his two older brothers.