Rondae Hollis-Jefferson missed the preseason and the first 3 regular-season games for the Brooklyn Nets, but Sunday night showed he’s all the way back.
The Brooklyn Nets had a big night Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers, opening up several cans on the visitors while running away in the second half for a 122-97 victory.
The Nets improved to 4-6 on the season with the win and are now 3-2 at Barclays Center in the early going.
Six Nets scored in double figures in the rout, but coming to the forefront was a player who has been battling his way back for a few weeks now.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished Sunday with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists, going 9-of-14 from the floor and showing he is all the way back from an offseason hip injury.
The point total was a season-high for Hollis-Jefferson, who missed the entire preseason and the first three regular-season encounters for Brooklyn, first recovering from the strained left adductor he sustained in early August while playing in a charity game in China hosted by former Net Jeremy Lin.
It was his first game with at least 20 points since March 31, when he had 20 points in a win over the Miami Heat on South Beach.
Perhaps more significantly was his 30 minutes of playing time, which was also a season-high.
Hollis-Jefferson had it working in the second half, as the Nets outscored the 76ers 71-50 to turn a close game into a blowout.
RHJ played a team-high 18 minutes after the break, going 7-for-9 with 14 points.
His burst was definitely there.
Hollis-Jefferson also teamed up with Jarrett Allen on a pretty lob that led to a dunk.
The narrative around Hollis-Jefferson for much of his time in Brooklyn has centered on the things he doesn’t do — specifically, shoot 3-pointers.
RHJ didn’t attempt a long ball Sunday night and is 0-for-5 on the season from deep. In his first three seasons, Hollis-Jefferson shot just 23.7 percent from deep on 135 attempts, including going 13-for-54 (24.1 percent) last season.
But when you look at what Hollis-Jefferson can do, he’s an extremely valuable member of the Brooklyn club. He is a versatile, switchy defender who at 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds with a wing span of just a shade more than 7-feet can guard every position on the floor capably.
Hollis-Jefferson gives up some size playing as a small-ball 4, but is averaging 9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes in the seven games he’s played this season, which would be the best mark of his career. He averaged 9.2 boards per 36 in 2016-17.
For the season, he is now averaging 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game this season, improving his shooting line to .449/0-for-5/7-for-14 with his performance on Sunday.
Given the defensive skills and energy he brings, even if he doesn’t do much for the spacing of the offense, it may be time for Hollis-Jefferson to resume the role he had last season as the starter at the 4 for the Nets.
He showed Sunday night that he’s definitely ready for the increased workload.