It’s been said over and over again, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s shot is broken and it’s been compared to another hyphenated defensive-minded player, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But even if RHJ’s form has a hitch or two, it is not unorthodox, like MKG’s before it was fixed.
Here’s a comparison that goes to the issue. In his injury-shortened rookie year, Hollis-Jefferson shot 63.6 percent from 10–15 feet and 40.6 percent from 16–23 feet. Kidd-Gilchrist’s number, on the other hand, were far worst. In his rookie season, Kidd-Gilchrist shot 33 percent on shots 10-15 feet and 29.8 percent from 16-23 feet, per NBA.com. BIG difference. In fact, Hollis-Jefferson’s numbers were better than the league averages from those lengths, which are 40.5 percent and 39.8 percent, respectively.
As Jonathan Tjarks writes in The Ringer, the issue for RHJ is range ... and confidence. In 29 games with the Nets as a rookie, he attempted only 14 three’s, making four, for 28.6 percent. (Kidd-Gilchrist in his rookie year, took nine shots from the arc, making two, for 22.2 percent).
"He’s a surprisingly decent midrange shooter, but the range to shoot from the 3-point line might never come," writes Tjarks, who argues it may not matter. His defense is that good. "In that sense, Hollis-Jefferson is a test case for how good a perimeter player in the modern NBA can become if he can’t stretch the floor."
Tjarks has ALL the statistics on both RHJ’s defense and his effect on the game, specifically his rebounding. Here’s one set...
The Nets’ defensive rating was 8.2 points lower when he was on the floor (101.4) than when he was off (109.8), by far the best mark on the team, and they are going to give him every chance to translate that production into a bigger role next season.
And here’s one on rebounding...
The Nets had their highest defensive rebounding percentage (77.7 percent, two points above their overall figure) and total rebounding percentage (52.3, nearly three points higher) when Rondae was in the lineup.
The larger point, Tjarks makes, is that Hollis-Jefferson, with his 7’2" wingspan, extraordinary speed and defensive acumen could become a force in the NBA even without a great three-point shot, particularly in a small ball lineup.
They already have the outlines of an interesting small-ball unit with Hollis-Jefferson, McCullough, and rookie Caris LeVert, three players 6-foot-7 and up who can switch on defense and force bigger defenders to guard them on the perimeter. Hollis-Jefferson can be the tip of the spear on defense while creating mismatches on offense.
That doesn’t mean the Nets aren’t trying to get Hollis-Jefferson to the next level as a shooter. With their shooting specialists, David Nurse last season and now Adam Harrington, it’s a priority. But is it a necessity? Maybe not.