Hours before the Draft, Danny Chau of Grantland did a feature on what he called the "small giants" of the NBA Draft, three players that embody a new type in the league, "more about fitting specific abilities around a system, rather than checking off a rigid five-position rubric." It's what some have called position-less basketball.
And in that context and that profile, Chau wrote about Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who had been projected near the end of the lottery or just beyond...
Hollis-Jefferson is the best all-around athlete in this draft, ranking in the top three in sprint and lane agility tests during this year’s combine, and placing in the top 20 in those respective categories among all NBA combine participants since 2009. He was the best defender in the Pac-12, and routinely hounded the other team’s best player, showing out on the big stage against D’Angelo Russell in the NCAA tournament.
At 6'7", 220, and a 7'2" wingspan, he can run, jump, defend and pass with the best of his draft class and he's 20 years old, same age as Chris McCullough. That's five years younger than Mason Plumlee, who can play, as it turned out, one position, center. Wrote Chau...
Roster construction has become more about fitting specific abilities around a system, rather than checking off a rigid five-position rubric ... Skills, trends, and positionality are all interconnected, and they all cycle through like heat in a convection oven. The future of the NBA isn’t necessarily big or small. It’s all-absorbing. It’s wide.
One aspect of Hollis-Jefferson's game is his point forward skills. It's evident in his ability to grab a rebound and take off, weave between defenders and either finish with his athleticism or dish with his highly refined passing skills. His jump shot needs a lot of work --as did another RJ from Arizona, Richard Jefferson, but as this Draft Express video shows, there's not a lot else that isn't NBA-ready.
The acquisition of the two hyper-athletic, skilled 20-year-olds is also a big change for the Nets, who lost a lot of their athleticism in Plumlee, but found two of those multi-skilled athletes that were so much on display in the NBA Finals. It will take a while for the Nets to see how the two picks will work within Lionel Hollins' system, but one thing is for sure, the Nets are less boring than they were Wednesday.