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Forward | 6’7 | 220 | Arizona
Projected: Mid-Late 1st round
Best Case: Gerald Wallace
Most Likely: Al-Farouq Aminu
Worst Case: Alonzo Gee
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has seen Justin Anderson’s friendly smile at almost all his pre-draft workouts thus far. Inevitably this leads to comparison, which is the primary reason I decided to profile them back-to-back. The similarities between the two are almost as numerous as their differences. Both are long, athletic types with lockdown defense credentials and limited ball-skills. Hollis-Jefferson really can’t shoot and is more of a tweener forward than a true wing player but probably has the higher defensive ceiling of the two given his additional height and reputation for consistently excellent defense at Arizona (Anderson was certainly good but at times wasn’t fundamentally sound – no such complaints of Rondae).
Moving those comparative goalposts, Hollis-Jefferson’s line drive, devil may care, foul drawing paint forays were the first thing in his game that reminded me of a young Crash Wallace. Adding in the rebounding and shot-blocking production from someone who will primarily play SF and the parallels became too hard to ignore. If Hollis-Jefferson is able to pair that type of reckless willingness to sacrifice his body with even slightly improved shooting, he can absolutely be a borderline two-way star like Crash was at his peak. More than anyone else though, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shares the most in common with Hollis-Jefferson’s game. Both are team first, defensive mavens with broken shots and the athleticism to impact a game despite this limitation. Without having to deal with the pressure that followed Kidd-Gilchrist as a #2 overall pick, Hollis-Jefferson can probably learn his trade in more of a Moe Harkless type role – that requires playing to a level that warrants minutes in a quality team (given he’s likely to be drafted late in the first round) but defense never goes out of style so I’m sure he’ll find his way.
For the Blazers, I prefer the myriad of strengths a guy like Justin Anderson can provide over the particular set of skills Hollis-Jefferson will put to use for whoever drafts him. Having said that, he projects as a strong wing defender and has the size to run around with new age perimeter power forwards so the Blazers would be silly not to strongly consider bringing him aboard. It’s just that for me, with all other things being relatively equal from a value standpoint, I’d rather take the guy who has learned how to shoot over the guy you have to hope will be able to learn. Sorry Rondae.