During the 2015 NBA Draft, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was one of the most underrated prospects in the entire class. Coming out of Arizona, he was their defensive specialist with his long arms and massive frame. His offensive game was inconsistent which dropped his stock. Even though he was a late-round prospect, he has draft steal potential written all over him.
Hollis-Jefferson was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 23rd overall pick, then traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that included Mason Plumlee. The Nets are a perfect home for him.
The Brooklyn Nets were in need of two things this offseason, defensive help, and an upgrade at small forward. Hollis-Jefferson brings both of those to the table.
The Nets defense struggled last year. They placed in the bottom third on both opponents field goal percentage and three-point shooting percentage per ESPN.com. With Hollis-Jefferson on the wing, I expect both numbers to drop. His defense is where he will make an immediate impact in Brooklyn.
Standing 6’7″ and 211 pounds, Hollis-Jefferson has the body to matchup against the best small forwards in the NBA. He can also cover the four, and has the potential on a game-by-game basis to cover the best player on the floor. His defense will make him starter worthy throughout his whole NBA career.
The reason he has steal potential next to his name has to do with the development of his offensive game. This summer league, Hollis-Jefferson proved he can score.
In the Orlando Summer League back on July 10th against the Charlotte Hornets, Hollis-Jefferson exploded for 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 steals. He was the overall best player on the Nets during the Summer League. I was shocked when he drained a three pointer with a hand in his face.
He was also hitting spot up threes with ease
Then used his length to cover the perimeter, resulting in a fast break dunk. He did it more than once.
But, his best defensive attribute is his blocking instincts. With his long arms and leaping ability, his blocking range is unbelievable. Watch this insane block from the Las Vegas Summer League
If Hollis-Jefferson can play like he did in the Summer League in the NBA, the Nets found the diamond in the rough at the end of the first-round. Even if his offensive game doesn’t develop, every team needs a defensive specialist to cover players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, and other dominant scorers in the NBA. The Nets didn’t have a defensive specialist last season, now they have one for years to come.
In his rookie season, I expect Hollis-Jefferson to immediately be the best defensive player on the Nets. I’m not expecting a great offensive performance from the start, so I’m projecting 10 points, 6 rebounds, and two blocks per game. He will be under a lot of pressure on defense because of the Nets struggles last season, but I think he will be able to handle it. With not having a first-round pick next season, the Nets need to get the best out of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.