Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had one of the most interesting story arcs of any Net last season. He didn’t fall into a sophomore slump, yet he failed to take the leap that some projected.
Hollis-Jefferson (RHJ) played 78 games (a vast improvement after only participating in 29 games his rookie season) over the course of his second season in the NBA. The Nets have only totaled 41 wins over the course of Hollis-Jefferson’s first two seasons in the NBA. However, this hasn’t necessarily been due to RHJ, as Brooklyn has won 29 of those contests with him on the court.
RHJ is one of the last players on the roster remaining from the Billy King era. Sean Marks has been quick to move on from players who were around during King’s reign as he has traded Brook Lopez, Chris McCullough, Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic over the course of the past year and a half. In fact, RHJ is currently longest tenured Net, and the only player remaining from the start of Brooklyn’s 2015-2016 campaign.
The longest tenured Brooklyn Net is now Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who arrived in 2015 on #NBADraft night.
— Bryan Fonseca (@BryanFonsecaNY) June 21, 2017
Hollis-Jefferson was acquired by the Nets’ via a draft night trade. He was originally selected by Portland with the 23rd pick and was subsequently traded for Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton. With Plumlee’s future with the Denver Nuggets currently in much doubt due to the development of Jusuf Nurkic, Brooklyn appears to have come out on top in this deal.
The 6-7 swingman showed a lot of promise when he was the court during the 2015-2016 season. In a season that was marred with chaos within the front office, RHJ stood out as one of the only bright spots, despite barely playing a third of the season. At a point in time where King was being slammed for trading away the team’s future, Hollis-Jefferson appeared to be a gem.
RHJ has also been a fan favorite off the court as well. He famously participated in the Talent Challenge during All-Star Weekend, 2016. This unique event involved Hollis-Jefferson playing a piano rendition of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from the hit Disney movie, Frozen. The former Arizona Wildcat was also voted “Funniest” by his rookie class in 2015.
After generating a lot of positive buzz during his rookie season, fans and the media naturally expected improvement on RHJ’s part the following season. He was even discussed as the fourth best sophomore going into the 2016-2017 season behind Karl Anthony-Towns, Kristaps Porzingis and Nikola Jokic. This put him in the same conversation as Devin Booker at the time.
Did Hollis-Jefferson take the quantum leap that some expected? Not quite: but let’s delve into his performance last season from all angles.
While defense will always be Hollis-Jefferson’s biggest asset, he has sneakily been a pest in another category; rebounding. Despite being considered undersized for the power forward (where he played 52% of possessions last season) position, he has utilized athleticism and length to become a glass eater.
RHJ totaled 356 boards last season, 96 of which were offensive rebounds. This total ranks in the top 20 among power forwards, and top 10 ranked among fours who are under 6-9. His per 36 minute rebounding numbers jump off the page even further. Through this metric, Hollis-Jefferson jumps into the top 15 among power forwards, and surprisingly places ahead of some notoriously well-respected rebounders. Some of these players include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul Millsap, Gorgui Dieng, Draymond Green and LaMarcus Aldridge.