With the 2015 NBA Draft fast approaching, we look at some of the players who may be available for the Portland Trail Blazers at the number 23 selection. Up today: small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
A two year starter at the University of Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson is one of the most athletic small forwards in the 2015 draft. At 6'7 and 215 pounds, he has NBA-ready size but can afford to add more muscle to his frame without sacrificing quickness. Hollis-Jefferson is a slashing scorer, getting to the rim quickly and driving home powerful dunks. He has impressive intensity going for rebounds on both ends of the floor, and has the reach and lateral agility to keep up with similarly sized opponents. Averaged 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season, helping the Wildcats advance to the Elite Eight.
1) Ridiculously athletic. He attacks the rim with ferocity, blowing past defenders and taking the battle to the shot-blockers, often drawing contact. Hollis-Jefferson averaged six free throws per game last season, shooting at a 70.7% clip. That number should improve at the NBA level. Runs the floor with fantastic speed, and can recover quickly in transition.
2) Lockdown defender. He was often called upon to stop the opposing team's best scorer, and did so with gusto. During the Sweet Sixteen versus Xavier in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, he held Xavier's second leading scorer, Trevon Bluiett to two points on 1-of-6 shooting. In the Round of 32 versus Ohio State, the Buckeyes leading scorer and likely Top 5 draft pick, D'Angelo Russell, was erased from the game, shooting 3-of-19. Hollis-Jefferson is a pesky defender, averaging almost a steal and a half per game.
3) High energy. He runs the floor with intensity, finishing alley-oops on one end and chasing down opposing scorers on the other. He rarely stops moving, willing to overwhelm his opponents with attrition, and fights to get open drive opportunities. Once he gets to the rim, he finishes well with both hands.
1) Shooting. He is a sub-par jump shooter, connecting on just 36.3% of his jump shots last season, the worst such mark among players expected to be drafted at the small forward position. He is entirely ineffective from three-point range, shooting 20.7% last season, and will need a lot of work at the NBA level to be considered a threat on offense. He is not a player who can be counted on as the leading scorer for any length of time.
2) Passing and playmaking. He was not the player to set up the offense for the Wildcats, and often looked lost when left on an island as a passer. He is a flashy dribbler, but an average defender can put pressure on him to prevent his signature straight-line drive. He does not adjust well to shifting defenses, and can get lost when it happens.
3) Hyper-aggressive defender. In a similar vein to Arron Afflalo, Hollis-Jefferson's tendency to fight over picks and go after steals for fast-break opportunities comes back to bite him in the foul category. He was in foul trouble for virtually the entire NCAA Tournament this year, fouling out versus Wisconsin when Arizona was eliminated in the Elite Eight.
Floor and Ceiling
His ceiling is Kawhi Leonard, a superior defender capable of making any player he guards miserable. If his offensive game is worked on at the next level, he could be a consistent 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals player a night at small forward.
His floor is Will Barton, a high-energy crowd pleaser who fights for flashy dunks and tough steals, but cannot keep track of opposing defenses and cannot shoot fish in a barrel.