Blazers select Hollis-Jefferson, reportedly trade him to Nets
The Portland Trail Blazers selected small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with the No. 23 pick and later traded his rights to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-player deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
The Blazers sent Jefferson and Steve Blake to Brooklyn in a package that netted Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton, who was chosen with the Nets' No. 41 pick at Thursday's NBA draft.
Hollis-Jefferson, 20, went pro after two years at Arizona. Starring alongside talented freshman forward Stanley Johnson this season, Hollis-Jefferson helped lead the Wildcats to the Elite Eight while averaging 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Both numbers marked improvements from his freshman season (9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds) as his playing time rose from 25.3 minutes per game to 28.8 minutes.
Mannix's analysis: The Blazers—which traded away Nicolas Batum and have Wesley Matthews and Arron Afflalo set to hit free agency—have minutes at the swing positions available. Hollis-Jefferson is an elite defender; he has great length and quickness and a 7-foot wingspan. Like Justin Anderson, Hollis-Jefferson will have to work on polishing his offensive game. One-dimensional wing defenders are rare—Tony Allen is probably the best of the bunch. But if Hollis-Jefferson can add layers to his game with some kind of perimeter skills, he could stick in Portland’s rotation.
Strengths: You can never undervalue elite perimeter defense as a skill. What’s even better, Hollis-Jefferson loves to defend and seems to understand where his money will come from. With a 7-foot wingspan, strong instincts and explosiveness, he can match up with just about anybody and plays hard all the time. He’s frequently around the ball and rebounds aggressively. As the league-wide trend toward perimeter-heavy lineups continues, guys like Hollis-Jefferson will be increasingly in demand.
Weaknesses: Well, he really can’t shoot. In two years at Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson totaled eight made three-pointers on 39 attempts, so while he’s bad, at least he’s not forcing it. His mechanics need major work, and if he can just establish a presence from mid-range, it should be enough to keep him in most rotations. While he’s terrific with a clear path to the basket, he’s not a creative dribbler and doesn’t present that much of a half-court threat. He should at least be a contributor of some type on the offensive end, but this could conceivably be a disaster area that relegates him to specialist duty.