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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson moves Nets into positive territory

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt the last two games have seen the new Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ... or as Kenny Atkinson has said, last year’s Hollis-Jefferson. He’s played tough, smart D, shown off his athleticism and continued his three-point shooting. In fact, as Brian Lewis notes,. the two game were also Hollis-Jefferson’s first two games with a positive plus-minus since rejoining the starting lineup,

Also, it appears RHJ has fully recovered from his adductor (hip muscle) strain back on August 4. Atkinson talked a lot about his versatility, particularly on defense.

“He can guard a 2, a 3, a 4, a 1. Its just huge for us. And he wants that responsibility. He’s embracing it more now that he’s feeling better physically,” Atkinson said. “[His teammates] celebrated against Toronto. … He got the 103-102 loose ball, he jumps on it, we get a jump ball. And he wins the tap against Kawhi. That’s closing out games. Those are the little things.”

RHJ told reporters he understands he is likely to guard anyone and everyone.

“Yeah, I expect similarities from the last time,” Hollis-Jefferson said, referring to last season. “Coach put me on 1 through 5, whoever he feels comfortable putting me on,” “I just accept the challenge.”

Defense of course is Hollis-Jefferson forte’. And on offense, he MAY have found the Holy Grail, the ability to consistently hit the three. The sample is small, but there is some improvement evident along with a willingness to take them.

In five games this month, RHJ has hit 4-of-7 three’s. That’s 57.1 percent. It does seem that Atkinson has given the 23-year-old the greenlight. There are few bigger fans of Hollis-Jefferson than Atkinson.

“Those are the ones that we want: They were wide open catch-and-shoot corner three’s. We believe he can make them. He works hard on them. Just glad for him to be rewarded,” Atkinson said. “Yes it’s great, but I think he’s doing a great job of passing up some and driving it and making an extra play, whether it’s a pass or running into a pick-and-roll. So his improvement has helped us defensively, too.”

With Caris LeVert out for a while, the Nets need both RHJ’s newfound skill and his well-established one.