Nobody on the Nets’ roster has spent more time in their uniform than Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
So in a season that has been personally frustrating for the fourth-year forward, fighting through multiple injuries and trying to rediscover his groove when he is healthy, it has also been refreshing to be around a winning group for the first time in his career.
“At the end of the day, everything needs to be recharged,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I’m human. I need to be recharged. When my batteries get low and my smile is down, these guys bring it back. They recharge me. That’s what it’s about at the end of the day.”
In what seems like the status quo for every Net this season, Hollis-Jefferson has had to spend more time on the trainer’s table than he would like. His latest trip there came Friday against the Knicks, when he collided with Noah Vonleh and suffered a gash below his right eye. He had to get four stitches but said Sunday he was feeling good, ready to play Monday night against the Celtics.
Hollis-Jefferson has already missed 11 games this season, first with a left adductor strain, then a right adductor strain. He shook off a shoulder strain last week that forced him to miss the end of a game, but is still trying to fight the mental hangover of his multiple injuries.
“Man, it’s been a roller coaster,” Hollis-Jefferson said with a sigh. “Just going through those things and kind of having these little setbacks, it’s tough for me, who always wants to be out there, who always wants to give 110 percent and play hard. It’s definitely been tough for me, but just trying to stay locked in and stay positive. Meeting with our therapist, talking with [assistant coach Jacque Vaughn], the coaches, just staying positive has been in my favor a lot of times.”
Last Tuesday, Hollis-Jefferson was the last one on the court at practice, working up a heavy sweat with the Nets’ assistant coaches. After coming back from his second adductor strain, he was in the midst of a four-game stretch in which he averaged just three points and 2.8 rebounds in less than 10 minutes per game.
The 24-year-old hasn’t hid his frustrations with not being able to find his form, the one he had last year when averaging career-highs of 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while looking like a potential core piece of the Nets’ future.
“I think what’s hard for young players in general is how it takes time to come back,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I think these guys want it the first game, the second game, and depending how long you’re out, there’s usually a timetable to get back to peak form. I think that’s understandable. These guys want it back now, the first game they’re going to be superstars and it’s just not that way.”
In the midst of all their injuries, the Nets have had multiple players step up and thrive. Hollis-Jefferson is waiting for his turn to do the same. He believes he will be better off for it in the long run.
“Sometimes you get faced with adversity and it’s just God seeing how well you can bounce back and how well you can overcome it before he throws the great things at you,” he said.
Until then, Hollis-Jefferson is not letting his own injuries get in the way of relishing the Nets’ turnaround season.
“Man, it feels like the energy is different, the vibe, just everybody’s mind, body, everything is just different now,” he said. “It feels amazing to be a part of, just the whole growth process, the transition. I’m loving everything about it. I’m loving where our heads are at. It’s amazing. I just can’t wait to see what the future holds.”