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The Doppelgänger Machine finds unfortunate comps for Aaron Holiday

Washington Wizards Introduce New Player Shoot
Wizards guard Aaron Holiday
Photo by Avi Gerver/NBAE via Getty Images

On draft day, the Wizards sent a first round pick to the Indiana Pacers for Aaron Holiday and a second round selection, which they used to take Isaiah Todd. This struck some — including me — as an odd move considering Holiday’s pedigree as a basically replacement level backup guard.

According to the Statistical Doppelgänger Machine, Holiday has several close matches to what he did last season. Unfortunately, those close matches are scrubby guards who didn’t accomplish much in the NBA. The results were so discouraging that I went back and looked at his comps from 2019-20 — the best season of his career so far — and they were mostly scrubs too.

The Statistical Doppelgänger Machine works by comparing a player’s performance across 14 different categories that include age, playing time, pace-neutral box score stats and scores from my PPA metric. All that’s rolled up into a single score that (in theory) provides a list of NBA players since 1977-78 with similar production at a similar age.

The comps from Holiday’s 2020-21 season:

  1. Rex Walters, New Jersey Nets, 1994-95 — This slightly above replacement level season was sandwiched between Walters’ two best years (PPA 84 and 81). Somehow, he appeared in nine NBA seasons despite never even approaching average. The Wizards have to hope Holiday makes a similar “sandwich” and bounces back bigly this season.
  2. Keyon Dooling, Los Angeles Clippers, 2002-03 — Dooling lasted 13 seasons despite each of his first five seasons rating below replacement level. He peaked with an 87 PPA in his ninth season at age 28.
  3. Jordan Farmar, Los Angeles Lakers, 2009-10 — Another scrubby kind of guard who stuck in the league despite a lack of production and then strung together three not-bad seasons at ages 24, 25 and 27 (these seasons were consecutive — he didn’t play in the NBA at age 26). He peaked with a 100 PPA, which is exactly league average.
  4. Bryn Forbes, San Antonio Spurs, 2017-18 — Forbes found a niche in the NBA because he became a quality three-point shooter. Holiday needs to continue improving in that area.
  5. Kareem Rush, Los Angeles Lakers, 2003-04 — Rush appeared in seven NBA seasons and never got much better than replacement level. His best season was a PPA 53 for the Indiana Pacers at age 27.
  6. Jordan Farmar, Los Angeles Lakers, 2008-09 — See above. The previous season was Farmar at age 23. This is him at 22. Neither season was much good.
  7. Marco Belinelli, Toronto Raptors, 2009-10 — Belinelli got 13 NBA seasons based on having a cool name (I guess) and a three-point that looked better than the percentage he actually hit. He did manage a slightly above average season (PPA 106) with the Spurs at age 27 in 2013-14.
  8. Austin Rivers, New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers, 2014-15 — This was the season Doc Rivers traded for his son and lavished him with playing time despite a staggering lack of production. As team president, Doc later gifted Austin a preposterously lucrative contract for a replacement level guard. His best season was a PPA 78 in 2017-18. That offseason, the Wizards traded Marcin Gortat to get him, and Rivers promptly reverted to replacement level.
  9. Lawrence Moten, Vancouver Grizzlies, 1996-97 — Moten got three seasons, the best of which was a 72 PPA in his rookie year. Holiday’s best season so far: PPA 79 in his second season.
  10. Shawn Respert, Milwaukee Bucks, 1995-96 — Another replacement level guard who lasted just three seasons.

As mentioned above, I also ran Holiday’s best season (PPA 79 in 2019-20) through the machine. Here’s the top 10 from that iteration:

  1. Ty Jerome, Oklahoma City Thunder, 2020-21
  2. Cory Joseph, Toronto Raptors, 2016-17
  3. Troy Hudson, Los Angeles Clippers, 1999-00
  4. Shelvin Mack, Atlanta Hawks, 2013-14
  5. Vinny Del Negro, Sacramento Kings, 1989-90
  6. Andrew Harrison, Memphis Grizzlies, 2017-18
  7. Chris Quinn, Miami Heat, 2007-08
  8. E’Twaun Moore, Orlando Magic, 2012-13
  9. Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks, 2018-19
  10. Allen Crabbe, Portland Trail Blazers, 2015-16

Bonus: Number 11 on that list is Tyronn Lue in 2002-03 — his second season with the Washington Wizards.


Who’s next through the Doppelgänger Machine?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Bradley Beal
    (22 votes)
  • 50%
    Rui Hachimura
    (43 votes)
  • 23%
    Davis Bertans
    (20 votes)
85 votes total Vote Now