Is Jrue Holiday not getting enough recognition on the Boston Celtics?

Jrue Holiday has arguably gotten not enough credit for the sacrifices he's made this season, but what makes his performance even easier to appreciate is wondering where the Celtics would be had they never acquired him.

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks
Boston Celtics v New York Knicks / Steven Ryan/GettyImages
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Jrue Holiday's numbers with the Boston Celtics won't pop out at anyone. Across the board, his scoring and passing numbers are way down compared to his last year with the Bucks. Just look at his Basketball Reference page if you don't believe that. Because Holiday's efforts are overshadowed by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, and, honestly, even Derrick White, there's been a growing narrative that Holiday's impact on the game goes under the radar. When you see graphs like the one below, it's not hard to understand why there's been an outcry for Holiday to get more appreciation.

To some degree, it's true. With as much offensive talent as the Celtics possess, Jrue was the obvious candidate for whose individual stats were most likely to slide among the starters. At the same time, it's not that surprising, especially since he's the oldest of the five.

To add to that, since the Celtics have remained one of the league's best defenses, Holiday's name usually comes up when anyone sheds light on that subject since he came to Boston with a reputation as an elite defender. Also, has a guy really fallen under the radar if he's involved in arguably the Celtics' most popular nickname this season? Arguably being the operative word.

So, while yes, Holiday's contributions may not be as noticeable because his numbers aren't close to the ones he once put up in Milwaukee, New Orleans, or Philadelphia, it's tough to say that he's been completely devoid of any credit whatsoever. While his sacrifices should be celebrated more than they are, what he should be appreciated more for is proving to single-handedly negate all of the potential consequences the Celtics would have faced after trading Marcus Smart away.

It sounds ridiculous now, knowing how much of a revelation he's been, but the Kristaps Porzingis trade was met with cautious optimism once the dust settled. It wasn't just that Porzingis was injury-prone or that Smart was a fan favorite. It was that Smart's familiarity, leadership, and experience, not to mention the tone he set, really made it feel like the Celtics traded away the heart of the team. While getting Porzingis was bound to give the Celtics a new dimension, having that come at the cost of Smart made it feel like the Celtics had a higher ceiling but a lower floor. Then they traded for Holiday, and all those concerns went *POOF!*

Holiday and Smart are not the same players but for about a decade now, both have always come up whenever someone asks, "Who are among the NBA's best defensive guards?" Anyone with eyes can see the difference between the two. Smart's style of defense is more chaotic than Holiday's, while Holiday has a more subtle technique but is effective all the same. It doesn't matter which one is better because, at the end of the day, it's apples and oranges, and they make their team's defense better.

So, in short, acquiring Jrue Holiday filled the holes that Marcus Smart would have left behind had the Celtics left things where they were following the Porzingis trade.

What would the Boston Celtics have looked like had they never acquired Jrue Holiday?

For what it's worth, it's not like the Celtics were desperate for someone like Holiday, knowing where they stood before they made the trade. Having Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams III round out your 7-man rotation is a pretty precarious position to be in, all things considered. Brogdon was one of the league's most efficient bench scorers, and Williams provided excellent frontcourt depth. The problem was both were injury risks on top of Porzingis, the Celtics had only one elite defensive guard with Smart gone, and who knows what kind of turmoil the Celtics would have had in that locker room knowing that they had almost traded him?

The Celtics had a contending team with a shakier foundation before the Holiday trade. They could have won a title with that team, but they would have had to rely on several lucky breaks to do it. This is where the Porzingis and Holiday trades went hand in hand with one another. What made trading Brogdon and Williams all the easier was how Porzingis made both of them superfluous. Porzingis alone brought the scoring Brogdon provided and rim protection Williams bestowed. With the holes the Smart trade left behind, the Celtics clearly felt Porzingis' addition was good enough that they could feel comfortable getting rid of those two to fill in those holes with Holiday.

The Celtics had a really, really good top-7, but they opted for an elite top-6 instead. As phenomenal as this season has been for Boston, the elephant in the room is that Holiday could potentially leave this upcoming offseason. However, there's been plenty of buzz indicating that, with his contract ending soon, he'll be in Boston going forward. Holiday has gone on the record saying he'd like to stay in an interview with MassLive's Brian Robb. For someone who many believe hasn't gotten the appreciation he deserves, there may not be one Celtics fan who believes they'd be better off letting him walk.