Part of me has a tough time writing this. Rondae has been with this team during some very dark times. A reliable presence on some truly abysmal teams. He's the sort of player that doesn't take very many plays off and seems to pass the "hustle" eye-test. Not to mention he has suffered a multitude of injuries (adductor, shoulder, his face for God’s sake) which have likely impacted his play. A grinder like Rondae is typically granted a lot of leeway from fans, myself included, until now. And yet, as the Nets begin to ascend to relevance it's worth asking, should Rondae Hollis-Jefferson be playing at all?
I should preference this by saying I know RHJ has to play right now. With the shear lack of healthy bodies and the Nets deficiency at the 4 they really don’t have any choice but to play him for 18-25 minutes a game. However, when the Nets lineup becomes healthy (hopefully soon) and Dudley, Dinwiddie, Levert, and Musa rejoin the ranks, does RHJ deserve any meaningful playing time, let alone 25 minutes per game?
After Thursday night’s game against the Spurs I found myself asking this same question over and over. His numbers on paper were pedestrian (6 points on 2/4 shooting with 6 rebounds in 18 minutes). But to me, he looked lost out on the court. His drives seemed out of control, his euro-step looked mediocre, and his jump shot… don’t get me started on his jump shot. Offensively, he’s a spacing killer and a complete liability. A lot of this is due to his bum shoulder but he wasn’t exactly lighting it up before the injury either. Let’s take a look at this year’s numbers;
9.5 PPG 1.8 AST 5.5 RBG on .403FG/ .237 3P/ .648 FT 22.5 minutes per game
This is pretty bad on its face but a look at his advanced numbers don’t make things better;
.462 True shooting (Awful) 12.6 PER (below average) 21.3% Usage (slightly above average)
Those usage numbers scare me the most. A player with this poor of offensive statistics should not be slightly over the league average for player usage. Not to mention he has the lowest field goal percentage in the entire league inside of the paint. That is detrimental to the team. There’s no way around that. This might be tolerable if we were developing young talent but it’s my belief that RHJ will not be with the team next year so that’s not something the Nets should be concerned with.
Now I understand that out of the 5 people who are reading this, 5 of you are shouting, "BUT WHAT ABOUT HIS DEFENSE?!?!" This is the common justification for keeping RHJ on the court for over 20 minutes a game. However, the Nets only give up .3 more points per 100 possessions when he is off the court. Their net rating improves by 2.5 points per 100 possessions with him off the court. Too be honest, there really isn’t any metric to justify Rondae playing for more than 10 minutes a game. When RHJ is on the bench, the Net’s pace is better, their defensive rebounding is better (this surprised me), they turn the ball over less, and they’re just generally a better team.
It isn’t my intention to shame RHJ. I really appreciate the hard work he puts in and the grit he has shown playing through injuries. However, with the playoffs feeling more and more inevitable and the future of this organization narrowing by the game, it just feels like there’s no place for Rondae on this Nets team.