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Taken at No. 23, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson rising in rookie rankings

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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a bit of a mystery when the Nets traded Mason Plumlee for him on Draft Night. Sure, Plumlee, who had been an All-Rookie selection his first year after Brook Lopez went down, was now superflous with Lopez thriving at center.  But who was this kid, this barely 20-year-old with the plaid pants and bowtie, taken way down at No. 23?

Now, along with Nets fans, those who rank rookies know exactly who he is. They've put the 6'7" Arizona product in the top 10.  He may not be the lone bright spot in the Nets lineup -- after all, Lopez and Thaddeus Young are among the top scoring front court duos in the NBA -- but he is showing some style along with some production.

Here's what those who rank rookies for CBS Sports and NBA.com have to say about him.

Ananth Pandian, CBS Sports (10)

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn Nets (#9) -- Fully entrenched in Brooklyn's starting lineup, Hollis-Jefferson has been a bright spot on the lowly Nets. He did a little bit of everything against the Celtics on Sunday with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists, five steals and one block.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com (8)


Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn Nets (10) - The defense remains the primary selling point, now with five and three steals in the last two games and six outings in all with at least two, along with what has grown into a consistent and prominent role. Meanwhile, Hollis-Jefferson is also capitalizing on limited opportunities in the offense by shooting 49.1 percent. The majority of the attempts come within 10 feet of the basket, but if he is not hurting the Nets on that side of the ball while living up to expectations on defense. All said, an encouraging first month for the No. 23 pick.

RHJ is No. 1 in steals among rookies, No. 4 in rebounds and double-doubles, No. 8 in assists. The big surprise? Hollis-Jefferson trails only Willie Cauley-Stein, Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns in shooting percentage.

His biggest need for improvement, Jarrett Jack tells Andy Vasquez, is aggressiveness.

"I get on his [rear end] all the time. I tell him he has to be aggressive," said Jack,. "In this league, the only way you're going to be respected is if you go out there and make plays and trust in your ability. And if you're a guy who's kind of shy with it, then you're never going to be able to reach your ceiling. And I tell him, 'Don't be afraid to mess up. All of us do. It's going to happen.' "

So far, so good. In his last five games, Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 9.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and two assists and steals per game. He's shooting 51.6 percent overall during that period, too.  Will he hit the rookie wall or take off first?

Kevin Durant says he sees the possibilities for both in the kid who models his shimmy style on KD's.

"I seen fresh meat and I was ready to eat. And I was hungry," Durant said. "He's a really, really active defender though, I really like him. Long, athletic. But I seen something in his eyes that I could exploit."

And so does Sarah Kustok... as this YES Magazine excerpt shows...

That's why they call them rookies, but the Nets apparently have a good one.