Will the Blazers regret trading Rondae Hollis-Jefferson?


The Portland Trail Blazers drafted Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with the 23rd pick in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. I think most of Blazer Nation was excited to welcome him.

Then, before anyone had time to blink, Portland shipped Hollis-Jefferson off to Brooklyn with backup point guard Steve Blake for forward/center Mason Plumlee and guard Pat Connaughton, the 41st overall pick in the 2015 draft, out of Notre Dame.

I’ll admit, I was disappointed with the trade, not because I think Plumlee or Connaughton are bad (they’re not), but because I was really excited for the direction the Blazers were moving in this summer. At a certain point, it was clear that LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez, and Wesley Matthews were not coming back to the Trail Blazers. I think most were disappointed that was happening, but in one fell swoop, Portland got young and really athletic.

Then, they traded the best overall athlete (I’m not talking about Blake) on the roster for Plumlee and Connaughton, who are both great athletes, too. But Hollis-Jefferson, as we’ve seen in NBA Summer League, can be a game-changing athlete.

Look at what Hollis-Jefferson could do in college!

Partnered with Damian Lillard, Hollis-Jefferson could have been to Lillard what Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green are to Stephen Curry. And now, he’s long gone, never coming back, and we never got to see that potentially potent combination.

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Hollis-Jefferson isn’t a great outside shooter, and he’s not good enough to get his own shot or generate offense for others. In nine games with Brooklyn in Summer League, Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 10.1 points on 36 percent shooting to go along with 6.8 rebounds per game. He does have high-scoring games of 22, 18, 15, showing flashes of what he can do when he’s feeling it.

It’s going to be about five to seven years before we know how big of a mistake, if at all, it was to trade Hollis-Jefferson. Obviously, that is partly based on how Connaughton and Plumlee play in Portland.

To me, though, Hollis-Jefferson is a wing/forward with a high ceiling. There are many great guards in the NBA, and there are quite a few athletic bigs with Plumlee’s skills. There are few guys with Hollis-Jefferson’s instincts and athleticism. If he ever develops an outside shot, he could become a top-10 wing in the NBA. I don’t know if Plumlee or Connaughton have the chance to be that good…

I don’t know why, exactly, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey traded Hollis-Jefferson, but to me, it doesn’t seem like a great move right now.

Maybe, Olshey thought the Pacific Northwest was too moist for Hollis-Jefferson?

We’ll likely never know!

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson videos via MORX5000 & Sean Newell

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