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#23 Portland Trail Blazers: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

With the 23rd pick in the draft, the Trail Blazers Selected Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

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With the 23rd pick in the 2015 draft, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of Arizona.

Jefferson slipped a bit in the eyes of some, with several placing him near the tail end of the lottery or the later teens. He could be something of a defensive stopgap for injured guard Wesley Matthews on the wing, should Matthews not return early in the year or even sign elsewhere in free agency. Hollis-Jefferson appears to have some NBA readiness as a defender already, with a huge 7’2 wingspan on a 6’7 body that makes him as lengthy as any wing-defender in the league.

He’s probably also capable of shifting to power forward for periods in small lineups, defensively at least. Whether or not he can provide the sort of floor spacing one might hope for from a small-ball player is up for debate, as Hollis-Jefferson shot just 20 percent from deep last season for the Wildcats. A 70 percent showing from the free-throw line isn’t much more encouraging either, and Hollis-Jefferson could need a major improvement here to be a valuable offensive player in the NBA. He’s a bit lacking as a shot creator also, and certainly won’t be a top option for the Trail Blazers.

But if he puts enough together on that end to stay on the floor, he’ll be an absolute menace. His potential defensively is as high as nearly anyone else in the class, with the foot speed to check smaller guys and the size and length to contest against bigs.

*Update: Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Portland has traded Hollis-Jefferson and Steve Blake to the Brooklyn Nets for Mason Plumlee and second-rounder Pat Connaughton.

Ben Dowsett is a Deputy Editor and in-depth basketball analyst based in Salt Lake City. He covers the Jazz on a credentialed basis for Basketball Insiders, and has previously appeared in the Sports Illustrated and TrueHoop Networks. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.

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