How Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Succeeds With An Old-School Game

09.28.18 3 months ago

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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a power forward built for a bygone era. In the ’80s and ’90s, and even stretching into the early-00s, teams consistently employed multiple non-shooting big men, as the league hadn’t evolved to understand the relative value of the three-point shot and the spacing four shooters provided. Had he come along in 1995 instead of 2015, Hollis-Jefferson’s game would draw comparisons all over the league. Now, players of his ilk are so few and far between — he’s a bit of a unicorn in his own right, though not necessarily the type of unicorn for which teams are constantly looking.

Hollis-Jefferson’s profile as a modern power forward is tenuous at best, especially on the offensive end — he’s a non-threat from beyond the three-point line and doesn’t offset that with immense vertical gravity and ability to finish around the basket. He takes almost as many shots from mid-range as he does at the rim, and while he’s improved his field goal percentage in both areas, that shot profile doesn’t bode well for an efficient offensive player. He’s not tall enough nor strong enough to be a relentless force on the offensive glass, further limiting his offensive toolbox.

Where Hollis-Jefferson does shine is when he has the ball in his hands and can go to work against his fellow big men. Few power forwards and centers can match his lateral athleticism, which helps him create space and get off those mid-range shots. More than 30 percent of his offensive possessions have come in isolation and post-up opportunities, and he and the Nets are relatively efficient on both. Contrary to the stereotype of a high-usage scorer, Hollis-Jefferson is a good passer and consistently finds his teammates for open shots, both at the three-point line and on cuts to the basket when the defense is drawn toward him.

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