Offensive growth, Kobe comparisons an ‘honor’ for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson


Photo: FIBA

For six seasons in the NBA, many considered Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as a one-sided wing who boasts defensive tenacity, yet a scoring blackhole with questionable shooting mechanics – which is evident from his career 21.2 percent three-point efficiency (44-of-208 made).

But now, with the lights of the World Cup in Manila directly shading him, the veteran has been showcasing that newfound offensive talent he crafted for Jordan as the nation’s naturalized enforcer.

Sporting a skinnier frame, a shaved head, and a wristband in his right elbow while donning the No. 24 jersey number, Hollis-Jefferson left an intriguing impression amongst the World Cup viewers – that he is a lefty version of the late great Kobe Bryant.

But for him, it has been a long, arduous journey before achieving this lofty regard.

“It’s an honor. I grew up playing like all-around. Like I didn’t care about scoring, I just cared about winning. I was like trying to get triple-doubles, to be honest.”

Hollis-Jefferson’s current World Cup outing for Jordan solidified his case of significant improvement from just being a stagnant defense-first forward. In the last two games for the Jordanian squad, he enticingly showcased ball-handling skills, passing and shot-making – offensive traits that were nonexistent at his side upon entering the NBA in 2015 and leaving it at the conclusion of the 2020-21 campaign.

In a heartbreaker against New Zealand this Monday, he erupted for 39 massive points, propelling his nation to an overtime play. In an unthinkable occurrence, he even sank an and-one clutch dagger triple that may have wrapped up the notion of his scoring development.

Now averaging 31.5 points in his first two World Cup games while still trying to power Jordan for a potential entry to the next round and even an Olympic ticket next year in Paris, Hollis-Jefferson seems to be heading for more special opportunities after the FIBA Championships upon displaying an unimaginable offensive metamorphosis – with a call from an NBA team likely waiting.

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