When the Portland Trail Blazers drafted Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with the 23rd pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Chad Ford described him as the "sleeper of the draft" with a little "Andre Iguodala in him".
The Nets, conscious of its awful drafting conditions during the time and in the future, decided to part ways with Mason Plumlee and sent him off to Portland in exchange for Hollis-Jefferson and Steve Blake, who they traded a few weeks later to the Pistons.
After one full season it'd be unfair to fully judge, but it appears to be a trade that worked out for both parties.
The second-year big man from Duke struggled to find a role once Brook Lopez returned from injury last year, and the two struggled mightily when they played together. The Nets had no business keeping him on the bench and they needed some young talent for the future. Hollis-Jefferson fit that description.
Portland on the other hand, needed a big with LaMarcus Aldridge heading to San Antonio. With a young and athletic roster, it was important Portland find a spry big man to replace Aldridge. Plumlee fit that description.
As Nets fans know, Plumlee isn't going to impress you much with his offensive skillset, but rather the hustle and heart he brings to a team night in and night out. Just ask LeBron about that.
Along with acquiring a flexible asset, and a capable young center for the future on a team-friendly contract, Portland received a solid role player who averaged nine points and nearly eight rebounds in 25 minutes per game this past season, helping Damian Lillard and the young Blazers to a somewhat surprising postseason run. And we learned, Mason Plumlee can pass, becoming a secondary distributor in the Blazers' wide open system, averaging 5.7 assists in the first round of the playoffs.
This came from our friends over at Blazers Edge on Plumlee at the midway point of the season:
This is a team thing, really. Plays like this one happen because of a combination of little steps the Blazers have taken - Plumlee's a better mid-range scorer and passer than he used to be, and Aminu's an improved shooter. (He's 35.4 percent from long distance this year, up considerably from 27.4 percent last year. Suddenly that $30 million contract doesn't look so silly.) The overall thrust here is - these are the joys of watching a young, improving team! It's the little victories you get from observing the long-term process of player development.
And for the Nets, despite only winning 21 games this season, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson served as one of the few bright spots when he was on the floor this past season. He missed 50 games due to a fractured ankle, but showed signs of brilliance especially on the defensive end. He averaged 5.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and the Nets were clearly much better with him on the floor.
He still has a lot to work on. The 21-year old needs to work on his jump shot and offensive game overall. There were times when defenses would lag off Hollis-Jefferson and clog the paint which led to double teams on Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young down low. He didn't pose as much of a threat from outside the paint and teams knew he was reluctant to take the mid-ranger.
Still, he's only 21-years old and you don't find many players out of college that can defend the way RHJ does. With time, a jump shot can be developed. The same can't always be said if it were defense that needed to be developed. Just ask MarShon Brooks.
All in all, the trade worked out for both sides thus far despite two completely opposite seasons. But here are a few things that aren't talked about much that may work out for the Nets in the near future:
Plumlee is five years older than RHJ and the Nets still have two trade exceptions left over from the trade -- a $1.4m exception that expires on Draft Night and a $2.2m exception that expires July 13. The first is from the trade of Plumlee and Hollis-Jefferson's rights and Steve Blake. The second is from the trade of Steve Blake for Quincy Miller. Those exceptions could come in handy on Draft Night if Sean Marks wants to pull off a trade. After July 1, they're basically worthless since everyone will be under the cap.
Like I said, it'd be premature to say either side won this trade. Right now it's looking like a deal that worked perfectly for both sides, but with time we'll be able to see who, if either at all, got the better end of the stick.