Can Jrue Holiday Match Marcus Smart’s Career Celtics Season?

Holiday's impact could be felt right from the jump


Oct 3, 2023

The Boston Celtics are all in on this upcoming season, and it could mean more awards for individual players.

Malcolm Brogdon took home the Sixth Man of the Year last season, and the season prior, Marcus Smart won Defensive Player of the Year.

Both players are no longer with the team, and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens effectively replaced Smart with Jrue Holiday, whom the Celtics traded Brogdon, Robert Williams III and multiple first-round picks for.

Boston’s offseason trades raised the ceiling of its offense but added questions to its defense. Stevens was optimistic that Holiday’s fit would help the Celtics on both sides of the floor, and oddsmakers are aligned with that thinking.

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Smart’s new Memphis Grizzlies teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight season at +550 on FanDuel Sportsbook. Holiday’s former Milwaukee Bucks teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo is +650 to win his second award. And Cleveland Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley is +700 to win his first Defensive Player of the Year.

Holiday also has never won the award, but he was named to the All-Defensive team five times in his 14-year NBA career. His pedigree on the defensive side of the ball has him at 23-1 to win Defensive Player of the Year, which is tied with Draymond Green and Nic Claxton.

That’s decent value on the new Celtics addition. However, he would need a season similar to Smart to be a strong contender since Smart was the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1996. The award is strongly biased toward big men. Still, Boston is projected to be one of the best teams in the league, so a spotlight could help Holiday’s case, especially if he can get one over Damian Lillard, whom the Bucks traded Holiday away for.

Derrick White at 110-1 could be an intriguing long shot. The market seems to believe White will start on the bench. But there’s a reality where head coach Joe Mazzulla is fluid with Boston’s starting lineup and plays matchups. A Holiday-White pairing would be one of the best defensive backcourts in the NBA, and if White is the one who makes flashy plays, that could strengthen his case over Holiday, whose impact could be more subtle than expected.

The best time to get these odds definitely is before basketball is played, otherwise, you’re buying high and not getting the best price.

Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images

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