Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a vital piece to the Nets’ roster. His play this season is to be respected. Parts of his game have seen improvement, while other aspects need work. No matter how you spin it, he is a player on the rise.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a fascinating NBA player. He doesn’t fit the mold of the new-age NBA in terms of shooting the three-ball. RHJ has a knack for getting to the rim; He also loves the mid-range shot. To put it simply: Hollis-Jefferson playstyle is a nod to the throwback era of the NBA. However, even with limited shooting skill, it doesn’t stop him from getting where he wants to be on the court.
2017-18 the Break Through Season:
The 2017-2018 season is turning out to be transitional one for the former Arizona Wildcat.
To put it in perspective: per basketball reference, RHJ’s rookie season saw him play 61 percent as a shooting guard. Fast forward two seasons later, and you’ll find Hollis-Jefferson’s minutes are all dedicated to the forward spot. As alluded to earlier, he is an intriguing player. He is posting career-highs in every free throw category, points per game, minutes, rebounds, and field goal percentage.
At the halfway point of the season RHJ is finding his footing in the league. He is starting to realize his current limitations on the perimeter. Instead of forcing the issue RHJ is focusing on polishing his midrange game. The proof is in the statistics; Hollis-Jefferson is posting a career-high in baskets made from 16+ feet. Once again, a hat tip to players of decades past.
Looking at the box scores alone, it’s evident that Hollis-Jefferson is an improved scorer. This season, in seven out of 40 games he scored 20 or more points. He achieved a career-high 25 points (10-16 shooting) versus the New York Knicks without recording a single three-point basket.
Posterizing a Unicorn:
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s performance against the Knicks on December 14 is a showcase for many bright spots in his game. He took Kristaps Porzingis to the rim on multiple possessions.
RHJ’s physical build makes for matchup nightmares when lined up against opposing power forwards. Standing at 6’7 and a lean 220 pounds, Hollis-Jefferson is not a pushover by any means. RHJ’s ability to finish at the rim correlates with his vastly improved midrange shooting.
The Midrange Master?
Per cleaningtheglass, his short midrange (outside of 4 feet but inside of 14 feet) is up 13 percent from last season, shooting 42 percent. It’s a positive sign to see the upgrade, but if you take a deeper look, it’s his shooting percentage from long midrange (shots outside of 14 feet inside the three-point arc) seeing the bigger enhancement.
RHJ was shooting a pedestrian 34 percent in the midrange area last season, to an impressive 51 percent in 40 games this season.
Area for Growth – Perimeter Shooting:
This point of emphasis transitions us to his next need of improvement: three-point shooting.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s career three-point numbers are nowhere near respectable. This isn’t dooming him by any means. The growth in RHJ’s midrange game and free throw numbers are a sign of encouragement. He is only 22 years old, thus giving him ample amount of time to find the three ball.
It’s clear near the end of his release he stiffens up. He makes the basket here, but besides the open shot, it doesn’t appear to be a comfortable attempt for Hollis-Jefferson.
Typically, the history of the game tells us players don’t miraculously improve midseason. The same can be said for RHJ. Don’t expect drastic changes in his perimeter game this season.
With that said, it’s clear his focus isn’t on the three-ball. Hollis-Jefferson is only attempting .076 from deep. Perhaps he is looking to master the art of the midrange before stepping to the deep end. Once again, paying homage to an era before him.
RHJ Growth is Helping Teammates:
Hollis-Jefferson’s transition to the frontcourt is paying dividends from a team perspective. In more ways than one, he is allowing success for others on the team.
Based on advanced stats, Hollis-Jefferson is the constant variable in the best lineups.
The Nets are +3 in points scored per 100 possessions with RHJ on the court. The aforementioned improvement on his free throws also show up in advanced analytics; The team is +3.9 in free throw rate per 100 field goal attempts. It’s apparent his role in the lineup is a net-positive.
DeMarre Carroll is one of the beneficiaries of Hollis-Jefferson’s presence in the lineup. The two-man lineup have 805 minutes logged together. Per basketballreference , the team is a +3.9 in three-pointers made when Carrol and Hollis-Jefferson are on the court.
Carrol is sitting around the same percentages from last season, but is also scoring a career-high 12.7 points per games. Carroll is shooting 44 percent on corner threes; The best numbers he’s posted in that category since the Atlanta Hawks days. You can’t ignore the effects of playing with Hollis-Jefferson.
Hollis-Jefferson’s potential is yet to be tapped. The Nets’ development from here on out will be vital to the finished product. Once his three-point shooting improves, consequently, so will the rest of his offensive game.
His rebounding also needs to be looked at. The per game stats are in is favor; The advanced stats, however, are not. His defensive rebounds percentage is down to 15.5 percent, which is low enough for the 33 percentile at his position.
Once again, Hollis-Jefferson is having a good season, but complacency is not a good neighbor. If he wants to reach the next level he must work on his outside shot and find a way to grab more boards.
all stats appear courtesy of basketball-reference.com and cleaningtheglass.com