Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Is on the Rise in Brooklyn
Long-time Brooklyn Nets radio analyst Tim Capstraw was a guest on Phoenix Suns radio on Wednesday night prior to the Suns and Nets tipping off from the Barclays Center. Naturally, Suns analyst Tim Kempton asked Capstraw about the new Arizona player on the Nets roster, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who had captured the hearts of basketball fans in the state for two seasons while in college.
Capstraw went on to say that Hollis-Jefferson is one of the “best things to happen to this organization in a long time,” referring to his energy, his personality and most of all, his play on the court.
When diving into this notion, there is merit to what he is saying. Since head coach Lionel Hollins worked his new first round pick into the starting lineup seven games into the season, the Nets have in fact played better basketball than their overall 5-13 record might show. They have won five of their last 11 games since his first start and only two of those losses have been by 10 points or more. To start the season, they lost their first five games without him starting, and four of those first five were by double-digit deficits.
His individual statistics would tell you that he is one of the best players on the Nets roster already. There are only three players on Brooklyn with a positive nERD, which indicates how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an average team over a full season. The top two are Thaddeus Young (3.3) and Brook Lopez (3.1) who are the premier names on the roster. The third is Hollis-Jefferson at 1.4, and everyone else is in the negative.
The main factor Hollis-Jefferson brings to this team? Defense.
While in college for two years at Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson became one of the top defenders in the country. His 6'7", 210-pound frame, long arms and great athleticism gave him the ability to guard all five positions on the court while playing for Sean Miller. He was named to the Pac-12’s All-Defensive Team in 2015, leading the Wildcats with 0.8 blocks per game and was third on the team at 1.2 steals per game.
This is now translating in a big way for the Nets. He has the team’s top Defensive Rating, via Basketball-Reference, at 100 and by far and away leads the team in Defensive Box Score Plus/Minus (estimating the defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league average player) at 3.7, which is good for seventh in the NBA. He is tied for first on the team with Shane Larkin with 3.3 steals per 100 possessions (minimum 10 games) and third in blocks per 100 possessions at 1.0 per game.
For most fantasy owners, it is hard to wrap your head around owning a player who has a Usage Rate of 12.0. But in Hollis-Jefferson’s case, you could let that notion slide.
Through 18 games, in addition to the steals mentioned earlier, he is first in all the NBA among small forwards with 14 rebounds per 100 possessions. Those 3.3 steals that were mentioned are 10th in the NBA. There are five games this season where he has had at least three steals in a game. In two of those games, he had five steals.
Considering his low Usage Percentage, he is still able to score the ball at a higher rate than to be expected. He averages 12 points while hoisting 9.5 field goals per 100 possessions and shoots 49.4 percent from the floor. A lot of his points come off rebounds or high percentage shots in the paint.
Last season at Arizona, he had 43 dunks in 38 games. His liking to get into the paint and attack the rim has translated to the next level.
Of his 77 shot attempts through 18 games, 49 of them have been from inside five feet from the hoop, and he is hitting 51 percent of them. 47 of those 49 have been within the restricted area, and he has made 53.2 percent of those.
When you look at his production compared to others at the small forward position or wing position, there may be some empty categories as it pertains to three-pointers and, at times, points, but there are not many that can do what Rondae Hollis-Jefferson does when you look at field goal percentage, rebounds, steals and blocks on any given night, which makes him a great piece for a fantasy lineup.
It’s just what the Nets have needed, according to Capstraw, and it may just be what you need to get your fantasy team over the top.