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Ron Holland? Yes, Ron Holland. Let’s start with the negatives first:

Holland only measured 6-6 1/2 at the NBA Draft Combine, he shot a ghastly 24 percent from 3 in the G League, and his avert-your-eyes start to the G League season — including an 11-turnover game — had scouts shuddering.

Now, for the good news: He came into the year as the top-rated player on most boards, had better numbers with G League Ignite than any other one-and-done in its history … and somehow went careening down draft boards anyway, even in a draft year where absolutely nobody came in and claimed the top spot for themselves.

I don’t really get it. The biggest complaint with Holland is his lack of efficiency, but that was baked in the second Ignite built this roster. Virtually any teenager put in a situation where he has to carry a 30 percent usage rate is going to struggle; we saw it with LaMelo Ball in Australia and Scoot Henderson in Portland. Holland was no different, especially since he’s not a natural point guard in the first place. Playing on a team with no real creator, he often had to call his own number against loaded-up defenses.

Did he get tunnel vision once he put it on the floor? Absolutely. Was it so tragic to rule him out versus other non-overwhelming options? I don’t think so, especially as the season wore on.

Holland’s numbers stack up well against Jalen Green’s with Ignite and are superior to every other Ignite perimeter player who has come through. That happened despite Holland missing the final two months of the season, when his increasing experience would have given him an edge and when the rest of the G League is at its most depleted due to call-ups and fewer assignment players.

In his Ignite season, Green posted a 15.4 PER with 61.3 percent true shooting; Holland had a 15.8 PER on 56.5 percent. The shooting numbers were bad, but Green played on a more coherent team and thus also was only asked to carry a 23 percent usage rate at this level, not Holland’s 28 percent. Also, keep in mind that Holland’s free-throw rate was pretty massive for a perimeter player; four free-throw attempts per game may not seem like much until you remember the G League shoots one attempt that counts for two points. Only 10 players in the whole G League matched his rate. And even with Holland’s brutal early turnover issues, his assist and turnover rates were essentially the same as Green’s age-18 season.

Green would be the No. 1 pick in this draft; I think Holland should be too.

The other reason to like Holland is his defense. His 3.5 percent steal rate stands out; some iffy gambles spiked the total, but there is real talent (and fire) on this end. Overall, his rates of rebounds, steals and blocks compare favorably to former Ignite lottery pick Dyson Daniels, for instance, who has now become an awesome defender at the NBA level. I think Holland has similar pathways to being elite at this end.

On top of that, there’s the good ol’ eye test. I’ve seen Holland shoot a ton, both before games and during them, having watched him in person several times over the last year. He has a low push shot that needs some work, but he’s also not a 24 percent 3-point shooter. His 72.8 percent mark from the line is a more accurate tell on where he stands as a shooter — he isn’t Stephen Curry, but his shot isn’t broken either. Just reaching the point where he makes one in three would make him a potent two-way wing, and that feels attainable.

Lastly, consider Holland’s age. With a July 2005 birthdate, he’s nearly a full year younger than several other players vying for places with him in the high lottery: He’s six months younger than Rob Dillingham, nine months younger than Stephon Castle or Matas Buzelis and more than a year younger than Donovan Clingan and Reed Sheppard. Teams get caught on class year, but birth year is what matters.

It’s not a slam dunk, and you could make a credible case for several players, but Holland has been the top player on my board since the 2023 Hoop Summit. He still has the best overall résumé.

View my top 75 prospects here.


NBA Draft 2024: John Hollinger’s Top 75 prospects, featuring Bronny James and more

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