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Open Floor: This Season’s Jrue Holiday, and Can Steph Win Every Award?

Steph Curry is putting on a legendary season, why Ben Simmons shouldn’t go to the Knicks and much more.

In today’s episode, Michael and Rohan open up the mailbag and wonder who this season’s version of Jrue Holiday will be, who’s the worst player who can lead a contender in scoring, how many awards Steph Curry will win this season, why Ben Simmons to the Knicks doesn’t make a lot of sense and more!

The following transcript is an excerpt from the Open Floor podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or on SI.com.

Michael Pina: So let's kick things off with an email from Jared. And this is an email that you, Rohan, have been begging to answer for weeks. So your answer better be tremendous. Jared writes, "When Jrue Holiday was on the trading block, I felt like he was a player that could have helped almost any team win the championship. He can fit anywhere. Example, if he had joined the Mavs, Nuggets, Jazz, Hawks or Sixers last season, they all might've won the title. Who is this year's Jrue Holiday?" Fascinating question from Jared. I have a guy who I want to talk about, but I know that you do as well, Rohan, so I'll let you kick this off.

Rohan Nadkarni: Well, I have a couple of people, Mike. Let me start here. This is one who I've mentioned many, many, many times on this podcast and maybe even used this exact introduction for him before. But Mike, what if I told you there was a player out there with championship experience, averaging 19 points and seven rebounds a game, shooting nearly 40% from three for almost the fourth or fifth season in a row. Is that the type of player you may be interested in?

Pina: Yeah, my ears would perk up.

Nadkarni: What if I told you this player was also lengthy, could defend multiple positions, could succeed on or off the ball. Does that sound like someone who might fit in as a contender?

Pina: Is he a good locker room guy?

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Nadkarni: I think he's a pretty well-liked locker room guy. I think that his contract is expiring pretty soon. It's not a long-term commitment. So you have the option to run it back with him because he's a fairly young player that some would say is in the prime of his career, or, you know, you could go all-in, for just a short period of time.

Pina: I think that this is a player that most teams would be interested in. Who is it?

Nadkarni: Well, that player is Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings, a long-time favorite of The Open Floor Podcast. I'm just curious when people are going to start really trying to turn the screws on the Kings here. Obviously, they've made a coaching change, whatever their internal expectations are seem to be higher than the external expectations for them. But it's Barnes and then also Buddy Hield. Those are the two guys that I think contenders need to be targeting. 

Buddy Hield was obviously mentioned, a lot of trade rumors over the summer, a lot of people thought the Lakers were going to get him. They went for Russell Westbrook instead, we see how that has turned out. I don't think either of these guys are as good as Jrue Holiday or as big of difference-makers as Jrue Holiday obviously. He's someone who I believe we had in our top 30 in the top 100 and Jrue Holiday is a great player. But what I think we're seeing this season is there's just a little bit less concentration of power at the top of the season. Now, granted, the Nets have been coming on strong. Milwaukee's looked incredible when their top three guys are healthy. It's not that there aren't favorites in the league, but I don't think you need a player as great as Jrue Holiday to significantly impact your title odds this season.

Could you imagine if the Nuggets somehow had Harrison Barnes right now? Obviously with MPJ out. I think that even the Mavs, if he goes back to Dallas, could use him. If the Clippers somehow swung the trade for him, or you've mentioned the Jazz as a team needing to make a move. I know he's not quite the perimeter stopper you think they need. But I think he does improve them a little bit on the wing. It gives them some more lineup flexibility. I think he's exactly the kind of guy every contender could use in the playoffs. Because as I mentioned, he's going to shoot threes. He could anchor some kind of second unit groups, if you take your No. 1 star out. Let him get you some offense in those few minutes when your star is resting in the playoffs. He can play off the ball, he's hitting threes. I know a lot of people's last memory of him is missing some threes in the 2016 Finals. He's improved a lot as a shooter since then.

Pina: What, wait, that's their last memory? Have these people been in a coma?

Nadkarni: How many people were watching the Harrison Barnes-led Mavericks? Or how many people were watching the current Sacramento Kings? So I think that he can help a lot of teams.

I 100% agree. I have a Harrison Barnes stat for you. There are five players in the NBA who are averaging more free throws per game than Harrison Barnes: Giannis, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden and Kevin Durant. So in addition to everything that you cited, his ability to get to the line this year at career-high rate is just humongous.

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