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LB Mock Draft: Raptors Take Hollis-Jefferson

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The fit is a bit odd, but there's good reason for Toronto to take Hollis-Jefferson, an NBA-ready defender with a help-wanted sign for his shot form.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the 20th selection in the Liberty Ballers mock draft, the Raptors go with a peculiar fit for their current roster, do-it-all-but-shooting forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out of Arizona. Though less heralded than teammate Stanley Johnson, Hollis-Jefferson might be more ready to contribute to a team which fancies itself as a contender.

Hollis-Jefferson would serve as a backup 3/4, and would fit well in lineups with bench big Patrick Patterson. He is a bit duplicitous with James Johnson, who had a falling out with the coaching staff at the end of last season, and who I anticipate will be traded over the summer. RHJ, while a bit smaller, brings none of the attitude issues and can defend the same positions.

The obvious issues here are with RHJ's shooting. Toronto isn't a great shooting team to begin with, as they play DeMar DeRozan major minutes and he also clogs floor spacing. Unlike DeRozan, who ends up a net positive due to his ridiculous foul-drawing, there will need to be some improvement on his jumper. Cutting and fast-breaking will only get Hollis-Jefferson's offense so far.

The best way I can think of describing his three-point jumper is like it's opening a pair of doors in opposite directions. His hand positioning on his jumper isn't great, and then when he releases, his shooting arm extends straight upwards to the point where his elbow kind of looks hyper-extended, and then he exaggerates a slow follow-through with the shooting hand, while his guide hand actually swings downward. He just doesn't look comfortable launching threes, like it's out of his motion's range.

DraftExpress describes the results of that shooting motion as seen below. SPOILER: it's not great:

...his inconsistent form prevents him from being reliable from any kind of range at this point in his career. He made just six of 29 three point attempts this season (20.7%), the lowest among small forwards in our top-100 rankings and just 36.3% of all jump shots according to Synergy Sports Technology.

Ouch. As Jerami Grant has shown, players can go from terrible in college to at the very least capable in the NBA with coaching and mechanical work, but Grant is more of an exception than a rule. RHJ, regarded as a high-motored hard worker, will need to show similar effort and hope that the results come with that effort and NBA coaching.

The pick here came down to RHJ and Kevon Looney, who was the only other player I considered. Toronto's most easily upgrade-ready position is power forward, with incumbent starter Amir Johnson entering free agency. Either re-signing Johnson or making a play for Paul Millsap or Kevin Love somehow are the more palatable routes to fill that gap. At this point, I think the team decides that after last year's selection of Bruno Caboclo, who is still one year away from being two years away, that they'll need a rotation player ready to contribute now.

Given Toronto's 25th ranked defensive rating, that rotation help is more of a pressing need on defense. And if you need NBA-ready defense at this point in the draft, Hollis-Jefferson is your man. I think if he falls this low, Toronto will feel the same way.

1. Minnesota TimberwolvesKarl-Anthony Towns
2. Los Angeles LakersJahlil Okafor
3. Philadelphia 76ers - D'Angelo Russell
4. New York Knicks - Emmanuel Mudiay
5. Orlando Magic - Mario Hezonja
6. Sacramento KingsJustise Winslow
7. Denver NuggetsWillie Cauley-Stein
8. Detroit PistonsStanley Johnson
9. Charlotte Hornets - Kristaps Porzingis
10. Miami HeatMyles Turner
11. Indiana PacersCameron Payne
12. Utah JazzFrank Kaminsky
13. Phoenix Suns - Kelly Oubre
14. Oklahoma City ThunderBobby Portis
15. Atlanta HawksSam Dekker
16. Boston CelticsR.J. Hunter
17. Milwaukee BucksTrey Lyles
18. Houston Rockets - Jerian Grant
19. Washington Wizards - Devin Booker

20. Toronto Raptors - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson