Fred VanVleet has been a godsend for the 2023-24 Houston Rockets. The championship point guard is averaging 16.4 points, a career-best 8.5 assists (fifth in the league), 4.3 rebounds, 85.3 percent from the charity stripe, 37.6 percent from three, and ranks third among starting point guards in assists-to-turnovers (behind Tyus Jones and Mike Conley).
VanVleet has also taken on a huge workload, as his 37.9 minutes per contest leads the league. Granted, he ranks 33rd in total minutes, mainly due to the Rockets' funky schedule, as they've played just 22 total games- the fewest in the league thus far.
Nonetheless, this is a trend that needs to stop, as the 6-foot point guard can't be expected to continue such a hefty burden. Part of the problem has been Jalen Green's struggles, which has largely deemed him unplayable in the fourth quarter by Rockets coach Ime Udoka on numerous occasions.
There could be a simple solution, however.
Give Aaron Holiday more minutes.
Holiday started the season as just another body (10 minutes or fewer in each of his first two games and less than 20 minutes in each of his first three games), but caught fire in the Rockets' 122-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings, scoring 13 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting in 21 minutes of action.
All told, there have been six games in which Holiday has played 20 minutes or more. In those games, Holiday has averaged 12 points, 58.3 percent from the field, and a staggering 54.5 percent from long-range (3.7 attempts).
Holiday has caught fire, of late, with averages of 9.7 points, 48.8 percent from the floor, and 59 percent from 3-point land (3.7 attempts) in the last six games.
How Ime Udoka can easily reduce Fred VanVleet's minutes
The 27-year-old has consistently been in closing lineups, in place of the aforementioned Green, showing a clear level of trust from Rockets coach Ime Udoka. All told, Holiday is averaging 7.2 points on 44.1 percent from deep in just 18.3 minutes of play, and has become the Rockets' best shooter.
Holiday's 3-point proficiency ranks 13th in the league thus far, which is far greater than what was expected of him when he was signed in the summer.
The youngest of the Holiday brothers explained the key to his stellar start to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto.
"Coming here, I decided to play my role and do the things that I’m asked to do. My teammates have done a great job of finding me for some threes. I’ve tried to come in and be a steady guard. I’m trying to make sure everything is slowed down a little bit, and we get into our sets for good shots. Defensively, I try to pick up and change the pace of the game."
Holiday should receive an uptick in minutes, not only because his play warrants it, but also because he could be the key to reducing VanVleet's gargantuan tonnage.