Jrue Holiday is 32 years old, entering the final three years of his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. If Father Time has taught us anything, it’s that we should expect a considerable drop-off from the 13-year pro as he exits the "prime" years of his career.
However, Holiday is unlike most two-way guards in the league. Built as an archetype more reliant on strength than athleticism, Holiday could be a valuable piece for the Bucks down the line, with a fighting chance at earning a sizable contract even at age 35.
With four All-Defensive Team honors through the past five seasons, there is no reason to expect Holiday to regress on that end of the court. As players age, they tend to lose that vertical pop, but Holiday’s defense is predicated on his top-tier lateral movement, the ability to shift his body weight from side-to-side without losing control.
Holiday’s low center of gravity allows the former All Star to maintain balance as he shades the best perimeter scorers and facilitators in the world, aided by his lightning-quick hands and elite timing. While he may lose some of his athletic ability, quick hands and terrific defensive awareness are two skills that Holiday will sustain through his final years (i.e. Andre Iguodala).
But we know what Holiday can do on the defensive side of the ball — what will his offensive game look like as he continues to add mileage?
Holiday’s finishing around the rim has always been predicated on skill and craftiness; he has never been an athletic freak, jumping out of the gym. While he did have his fair share of throwdowns during his early days in Philadelphia and New Orleans, Holiday grew into his body further over the past five seasons, using his strength as the ultimate factor to create space around the rim.
Holiday’s dynamic fitness regimen combined with his outstanding motor makes it unlikely that he will lose much of his strength as he ages. He will continue to seek out contact at the rim before reaching into his seemingly never-ending bag of finishes, whether that be the up-and-under, off-footed layup, slow-stepping euro, etc.
Not to mention, the ambidexterity of Holiday, a right-handed guard who prefers finishing with his left, gives opposing defenses nightmares when he gets two feet in the paint.
As a perimeter scorer, Holiday is only trending upwards, coming off the best shooting season of his career. He shot a career high 41.1% from behind the arc, including 40.6% on pull up threes. His 42.1% rate on catch-and-shoot threes makes him a seamless fit as a "3-D" guard alongside Giannis Antetouknmpo and Khris Middleton.
He even showed the ability to create on his own at a high clip, shooting an unreal 52.7% on stepback threes and 44.7% on shots after 7+ dribbles during the regular season. There is no question the former champion will be able to play himself into another contract if he maintains this level of efficient self-creation.
In a league filled to the brim with talent, continuity means more than anything, a primary reason the Warriors currently sit on the throne. Giannis has four years left on his contract, while Middleton will likely see an extension after his final two seasons are complete.
The Bucks are one of the few teams that saw very slight roster turnover this past offseason, preserving the core while continuing to cultivate a winning culture. As Holiday said on Media Day, "It's real comfortable. Having everybody back sort of puts us ahead."
For the Bucks, maximizing their generational talent in Giannis is of utmost importance, and Holiday does just that. The front office should look to have "The Jruth" finish his career with the team where he won his first championship, and who knows? Maybe one day, Jrue Holiday could find his jersey in the rafters of Fiserv Forum.