3 ways Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can help the Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers recently signed combo forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a ten-day contract. What are 3 ways that Jefferson can help them?

When the Blazers traded Gary Trent Jr and Rodney Hood for Norman Powell, they freed up an extra roster spot but lost some size, and went sideways defensively. Hood is six-foot-eight, and Trent is six-foot-five, while Powell is just six-foot-three.

In terms of the positional makeup of this roster, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are the building blocks of this team. This has been speculated about for years, but the Dame / CJ blazers will always have a small and defensively brittle back-court. Though the Blazers have Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr, the frontcourt of Dame and CJ remain. When Hood and Trent left, this team needed more options at the three, four and five.

T.J. Leaf was signed as a two-way player, a great option as someone who could play spot minutes in the case of an injury. But the Blazers still lack defensive depth behind the recently returned Jusuf Nurkic, and Covington and Jones Jr.

Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony, as strong as they are offensively, are a nightmare on the defensive end. They both can’t slide their feet, and Kanter is unable to protect the rim. Though he is a great rebounder, Kanter cant block shots. Melo has some rim protection, but he has really struggled as a rebounder over the last few years.

Now, the Blazers have signed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a ten-day deal to shore up that troublesome defense.

3 ways Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can help the Portland Trail Blazers

Hollis-Jefferson is a six-foot-six hybrid forward. He is just 26-years-old, but has played 294 NBA games, with playoff runs for the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors. Interestingly, though he is just six-foot-six, he has played most of his NBA minutes at the four, with some at the five too.

In the modern-day NBA, guys like Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and young Boston Celtics big Grant Williams, all play big men positions at certain points for their teams. Though these players are only six-foot-five and six-foot-six, their superior wingspans and great hands combined with strength, means they can switch through multiple positions.

Hollis-Jefferson skill one – he can guard multiple positions

Though his offensive game is still developing, Hollis-Jefferson is an excellent multi-positional defender. He can credibly guard positions two through four, and against some teams he can guard all five positions. With the Blazers lack of defensive personnel, when he is on the floor the Blazers could switch some of the ball screens when they have Covington and Jones Jr out there with him.

Jefferson has great hands as well as great strength, so he can disrupt the ball from post players or ball handlers on the perimeter. His monster plus eight wingspan means that he effectively has big man size with the feet and speed of a wing.

Hollis-Jefferson skill two – he is a great passer

Though Hollis-Jefferson isn’t a great shooter, he has a few offensive skills that can help this Blazers team. Because other big men Melo and Kanter aren’t strong passers, having Jefferson being able to initiate offense on the second unit could be a point of difference for this team.

There aren’t many strong passers on this Blazers team, so if Jefferson was used as a backup big, he could potentially initiate offense from the elbow, the high post, or the perimeter.

Because of he and Covington’s superior wingspan and size, they could form a four / five combo that could work as a small ball option against certain teams. This combo may be better than the Covington / Melo combo as not as much would be given up on defense, while still keeping the ball moving on the other end.

Hollis-Jefferson skill three – he is great at forcing turnovers

Only two players who have played 1000 minutes for the Blazers this season sit in the top third of the league in steal percentage. Covington is great at forcing turnovers, but he cant do this on his own. In Hollis-Jefferson., the Blazers have a player who has finished in the top quarter of the league every season of his career when it comes to steal percentage.

Because of his massive wingspan, great hands, and IQ, Hollis-Jefferson is able to get multiple poke away’s and deflections per game.

Though his offense needs work, Hollis-Jefferson can shore up this team’s awful defense in either a small or big lineup. The Blazers have a spare roster spot and the cap space to sign him for the rest of the season too.

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