Markel Brown and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson became fast friends after the Nets traded for RHJ and sent the two down to Orlando for summer league, then cross country to Las Vegas. They hung out, practiced and played well together. In fact, you can call them very fast friends because that's what the Nets want them to be: young, athletic, character guys.
The team took note of the chemistry early. They taped them visiting Universal Studios Theme Park, set up a joint Q. and A. on the team's Twitter account in which Rondae challenged Markel to a dunk contest and arranged for them put their friendship to the test when an interviewer quizzed them to see how well they knew each other. There was even a photo gallery and video on the team website showing them competing in a celebrity ping-pong tournament.
The theme park video featured the two of them helping two little girls win Minions by making baskets, although Markel admitted it was harder than it looked.
But the real test came in Vegas when they were asked about each other. Take a look...
No, Rondae, Markel doesn't think he looks like Ludacris.
It's not just about marketing two camera-ready personalities with distinctive first names. The chemistry between Markel and Rondae started to pay off in Vegas as the Nets went on to win their first game. The duo combined for 26 points on their way to a 76-75 win against the Cavaliers. Rondae had 15 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Markel chipped in with 11 points, two steals and one assist.
By the time the Vegas Summer League was over, both had put up numbers ... and seemed increasingly comfortable with the game and each other.
Rondae was an all-around stat sheet stuffer this summer. He averaged 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.6 steals per game in Orlando. In Vegas, he averaged 11.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks. After a slow start in Orlando, Markel also stepped up in Vegas and averaged a team-high 15.8 points per game on 42 percent shooting from the field, but only 26.3 from three.. He also averaged 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Markel’s mid-range game was on full display, pulling up from 15 feet and knocking down jumpers off the pick.
What's next for the two? Maybe some competition. With veteran guard Alan Anderson agreeing to a one-year deal with the Wizards, Markel should be seeing more time on the court. And so should Rondae, maybe battling for the same minutes.
Don't expect them to start though. Lionel Hollins basically took that off the table Friday in an interview with Mike Mazzeo.
"I don’t see those young guys [Brown and Hollis-Jefferson] being the guys that jump over the core players that are starters. They’re going to be the depth, but that’s my thought process here at the end of July and the first of August," said the coach who liked how the two played in the summer leagues.
Still, that friendship is likely to pay dividends down the road.