After an encouraging first season, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will have a greater role on the Brooklyn Nets this season.
Heading into his second year with the Brooklyn Nets, Hollis-Jefferson is one of Brooklyn’s most promising players. He has shown that he’s a force on the defensive end of the floor, efficiently rebounding and blocking shots.
At the University of Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson was known as a fierce scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker despite his small size. Hollis-Jefferson stood at just 6-foot-7, but made his presence known on the floor. During his two seasons at Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson averaged 10.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game, while shooting at an impressive 49.6 percent from the field. He would take his defensive skills with him to the pros.
The Portland Trail Blazers selected Hollis-Jefferson with the 23rd overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. He was subsequently traded to Brooklyn in exchange for Steve Blake, Mason Plumlee, and Pat Connaughton. So far, Hollis-Jefferson has shown the Nets that he was worth the trade.
Last season, Hollis-Jefferson was a bright spot on a rather dull Nets team. Despite playing only 29 games due to a right ankle injury, the 21-year-old swingman displayed immense defensive abilities. There was no question that he possessed rebounding and blocking skills. The rookie racked up 5.3 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game. In the entire league, Hollis-Jefferson ranked 51st in defensive real plus/minus (DRPM), with just one other Net above him in ratings. His teammate, Brook Lopez, was 41st in DRPM.
However, in order for Hollis-Jefferson to become a strong force on the Nets, he will have to work on his offensive game. He has the potential to become a star on the team, but his jump shot and form are holding him back, as evident from highlight reels of his rookie season. Hollis-Jefferson posted just 5.8 points per game last season.
Luckily for the Nets, Hollis-Jefferson was far more productive during Summer League. Over the course of five games, he tallied 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Unfortunately, he showed no indication that he worked on his perimeter game. Hollis-Jefferson shot at 45.5 percent from the field, but just at 25 percent from long-range. He struggled from long distance last season as well, shooting at just 28.6 percent. It’s clear that he still has a long way to go before he can truly become a threat from behind the arc.
With Joe Johnson gone, Hollis-Jefferson will likely earn a spot in the starting lineup alongside two-way player Bojan Bogdanovic. Both players are able to play at the two or the three, so we’ll see the Nets alternating between them for both positions.
When healthy, Hollis-Jefferson has the potential to be a defensive monster. This will surely help the Nets, who finished second-to-last in defensive efficiency last season. Furthermore, if Hollis-Jefferson can improve his offense, there’s no telling how much he can achieve with the Nets.
Nevertheless, Hollis-Jefferson will have his chance to shine on the Nets this season. He’s set to have a huge season on the Nets, with bigger minutes and a greater role. With Brooklyn not expected to do well this season, Hollis-Jefferson can help the Nets exceed expectations, while also establishing himself in the league.