Q&A: Justin Holiday looks to bring his leadership, experience to Hawks

The Hawks added a piece to their roster who brings playoff and NBA Finals experience. The team added veteran forward Justin Holiday to its roster after dealing Kevin Huerter to the Kings last week.

ExploreMore AJC coverage of the Hawks

The eldest of the Holiday siblings, Justin spoke of his excitement for his reunion with the Hawks after he played for them during the 2015-16 season. He added that he already feels a sense of comfort since he will be reuniting with former Pacers coach Nate McMillan as well as his younger brother, Aaron.

The Hawks introduced Justin Holiday to local media Thursday afternoon, and here are some of the highlights from that Q&A period.

Some of the questions and answers were edited for clarity.

Q: What are you looking forward to most about reuniting with Hawks coach Nate McMillan?

A: I am very, very, very excited to be playing for Nate again. It’s a very, very comfortable space that I am in. We know each other very well. We had a successful season together as far as making it to the playoffs. And to have a coach that believes in you, coach that knows what you like to do and put you in positions to be successful, is something that’s very, very exciting. So, I’m happy to be back with Nate and hopefully get some some good things going.

Q: As a veteran, what are you hoping to teach the younger guys and help this team get to the next level?

A: I mean, I’m going to try to be an example in how I go about my job, how I go about approaching each day, how I am as far as being a teammate, encouraging and pushing each of the players. I’ve actually experienced probably everything you can as an NBA player, other than being on a two-way contract. So, I have a lot of experience in dealing with a lot of ups and a lot of downs. And I think I will be able to help in those spaces and kind of give them my, my two cents. And give them my opinion on some things, as well as listening and being a soundboard for some the younger players that are new to this or experienced some things that are a little different or new. And again, just being in a place of helping with confidence. Because a lot of things I’ve learned in this league and trying to be able to keep your confidence and stay in that place of being mentally free and focus on what you’re trying to do, sometimes gonna get tough when things aren’t going the way you want it to.

Q: What are your expectations for being on the same team as your brother, Aaron? Also, how do you expect your game to coexist with the game of Trae Young?

A: Yeah, adding another layer to comfort in having my brother with me. You know, other than the year I won a championship with the Warriors, my favorite year probably playing basketball was when I was with Aaron. And to be able to tap into that again and hopefully have a better year than we did that year (in Indiana) is something that’s very, very exciting. Being able to play with one another as far as chemistry goes, there’s not much, I don’t think there’s any better situation to be in to have your brother, who you know, the ins and outs of and, you know, grew up with and know them personally, on a different level than other people. If something’s going to be good, it’s something that will be seen and translate to the court effortlessly. And again, to have somebody that, you know, I’m very, very comfortable, so when I’m on the road, you know, not that I don’t have friends and teammates, but I have my brother with me. Like, if you have a good relationship with your brother, with a family member, think about having them at your job, and being in the space of playing basketball as a job, that doesn’t really get much better than that. So, I’m very excited about that.

And as far as being able to play with Trae, I’m excited about that, as well. You know, we know Trae’s a great player, All-Star player and the attention that he’s going to bring, he’s gonna open up a lot of things for other players, and the rest of us are going to be ready to step up and do our jobs in that position. And I think I’m a perfect person to fit in that space. I shoot the ball well, very well. So, when he is being doubled and things like that, guys like myself being left open or Aaron or the other guys on the team that can shoot the ball, I think will be very, very important.

And you know, the way I think about the game, think about ways to be able to get him open, get him available, I think will be good. You guys have probably seen me from afar. But you know, Nate knows and you know ex-teammates and my brothers know that the type of player that I am. I’m a very, very cerebral player. So, I do think a lot. I try to make smart plays. I try and make the right plays. And I feel that’s gonna help Trae and the rest of the teammates in what we’re doing and moving forward. And like I said, defensively, I’ll be able to guard you know, ones, twos, you know, and my brother as well will be able to allow Trae to not have to do that as much.

And I mean, I haven’t even talked about (recently acquired) Dejounte (Murray) yet, so we know he’s gonna be taken on a lot as well. So adds a lot of defense and the things that I bring to the game and Aaron brings the game, that Dejounte brings to the game, shoot that Moe (Harkless) brings to the game, it’s gonna be, I think, very, very helpful for Trae to allow him to focus on doing what he does best and that’s getting that ball in the basket, getting his teammates involved, and, you know, hopefully helping win more games.

Q: How do you really process this anticipation and expectation of a new season, and getting back to the playoffs as a person from the outside looking in?

A: Yeah, from the outside looking in, you know, this team has always been a team that I felt has a chance to do well, and go deep into the playoffs. And they’ve shown it, you know, with their grit. The thing I actually liked a lot about the playoff runs that they’ve had, were how gritty they were. I actually think about Trae Young playing in (Madison Square) Garden, and how those guys all went in there, like dogs, man, and went and tried to take what they wanted. So, that’s very, very exciting, and it’s very, very exciting to have those expectations of wanting to win. I want to be a part of a team and a part of organization that wants to win and expects to win. Because if you don’t have those expectations, then there’s no issue really going out there.

And so, I’m at a point to where I want to win. And I will do anything I can to help do so and that’s regardless of what it is. I’m gonna give everything I can to do that and that’s my mind, you know, my body, of course and just sacrificing for this team to do so. So I’m very, very excited to have those expectations. I’m excited to be a part of this team and add to what they have. Because I do feel that I can help in a lot of areas. And I’m excited to see the special things that we will see from this team and the pairing of the Dejounte Murray and Trae, the pairing of myself and Aaron, and then, you know, all of us obviously being together. So it’s very, very exciting again, and I hope we come here and do special things.

Q: With your experience, is it are you at a point in your career where you’re looking to add more to your game or is it kind of better just kind of honing in on the skills that you already have?

A: I feel as a basketball player or in anything you do, you’re always trying to add, you’re always trying to improve. You become smarter and wiser in the things that you need to be able to do and things that can help advance you in your craft. And so I’m always trying to improve. I don’t feel anyone is ever in a space to where they can’t improve anymore, as well as honing in on the things that I do well. So, I’m working on all my game like always have every season, every summer to try to be the best I can. Because you know I’ve been in this league 10 years. Everyone knows what I do very very well. And they will try to take those things away. So, I have to be able to do other things. I have to be able to put myself in a position my teammates position to be successful as well. And if you’re one-dimensional or can’t do certain things then you won’t be able to do so. So, I’ve been working on everything.

I want to improve even with things I do well. I’m gonna shoot the ball better. I’m gonna defend better and a lot of that sometimes does come from becoming smarter, understanding the game more, having years under your belt to where you’re seeing any and everything and to kind of focus on those things in the summer and break down certain situations that have been and I might be in, and again now to this team situations, I will be in with a different type of person we have now. So I’m working on to improve everything in the come into the best player I can to help the team.