Ron Holland began the season No. 1 on a lot of boards. In the months since, his stock has fluctuated violently depending on where you look. It's that kind of year as far as NBA Draft evaluation is concerned.
The 18-year-old hasn't necessarily disappointed, but Holland is trapped in a difficult situation. The G League Ignite team is bad. It's that simple. The offense lacks basic infrastructure. Holland doesn't have reliable point guard play or optimal spacing to make his life easier. The talent is plentiful — Ignite has never had more NBA prospects in the mix — but the roster construction is all out of whack.
Holland is therefore playing heavy minutes on the G League's worst team, with a statistical profile that indicates his immense talent while underscoring his weaknesses, in bold and italics. Holland is averaging 19.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists on .460/.240/.728 splits in 31.9 minutes.
At the end of the day, what made Holland such an appealing prospect before the season hasn't dissipated. He's the best two-way wing on the board in a draft defined by parity and uncertainty. His archetype is highly coveted around the NBA and that should give Holland a bit of extra leeway. It's best to view him as a project more than a day-one star, but Holland's innate physical gifts and unceasing motor serve as a strong foundation upon which to build.
Team fit is going to matter a lot for Holland. That said, the upside is pronounced.
Ron Holland NBA Draft bio
Weight: 195 pounds
Birthdate: July 7, 2005
Position: Small Forward
Offensive Role: Slashing wing
Defensive Role: Switchable wing
Projected Draft Range: 1-14
NBA Draft highlights
Ron Holland is the best open-floor athlete in the 2024 draft. He runs the court with fervor and absolutely dominates in transition. He can fill lanes, grab-and-go off the rebound, or catch the hit-ahead pass and gun it. His aggressiveness seldom wavers, which serves as a strength more often than a weakness. Holland is difficult to stop once he has momentum. At the rim, he will embrace contact, draw fouls, and explode for power finishes.
That general approach applies to the halfcourt setting, too. Holland wants to get downhill and put pressure on the rim. His first step is blistering and he's beginning to show more promise as a self-creator. Holland loves to operate at full speed, but he's getting better at shifting gears into pull-up jumpers and delivering live-dribble passes.
Holland will do the majority of his damage off the catch. He will flourish with superior spacing at the next level. Also, if Holland gets paired with a high-level creator, the ability to attack rotating defenses and drive against weaker defenders should help mitigate his weaknesses as a ball-handler and decision-maker.
The 3-point shot has been a problem, but Holland shows promising touch from the mid-range and on floaters. His 72.8 percent free throw rate isn't great, but it's not terrible. There's enough there to project forward with optimism, maybe even confidence.
Where Holland made his bones in high school is the defensive end. His motor is the stuff of legend. It's difficult in the G League, where he's surrounded by more talent and better athletes, but Holland still aims to win every 50-50 ball. He leaves his imprint on the game with physicality. Holland should comfortably switch one through four on defense; even if he loses the strength battle, he will dig in and compete. He doesn't cede position without a fight.
His playmaking on that end of the floor is excellent as well. Holland is averaging 2.3 steals and 0.9 blocks for the Ignite. He will blow up passing lanes and eliminate air space with timely rotations. His propensity for generating turnovers plays beautifully to his strengths in transition. Holland loves to run and he's great at creating the opportunities to do so.
Holland's 3-point percentage leaps off the page (24.0 percent). His spot-up mechanics are rigid and he lacks confidence from range. For a player so reliant on paint pressure and weaponizing his speed, the inability to demand respect beyond the arc is problematic. The Ignite has magnified Holland's issues with poor spacing and limited creators, but if the 3s aren't falling at the next level, his ceiling and floor are limited.
Another major red flag for talent evaluators is turnovers — 3.2 per game, compared to 2.9 assists. Holland's aggressiveness can get the best of him. He runs headlong into crowds and gets too sped up at times. His handle isn't particularly great. Holland has gotten better at mixing speeds and slowing down for finishes, but he still has a long way to go. The finishing also bears monitoring. Holland can get a little erratic below the rim. He doesn't lack touch, but he's not the best at improvised layups.
It's going to be difficult for teams to talk themselves into Holland as a potential top-five pick, not to mention No. 1 overall, if the 3s don't start falling. A reliable jumper would paper over flaws as a decision-maker, or vice versa. It's hard to be weak in both areas. Holland's first step, length, and vertical explosiveness is enough to maintain confidence long-term — again, we're talking a project here — but Holland is going to experience his share of growing pains. That is especially true if he lands with a team in need of immediate shot creation. Holland would be much better suited to a streamlined role in the early going. Let him cut, straight-line drive off the catch, and focus his energy on defense.
Holland is a major beneficiary of the weak draft class around him. But, by that same token, he has become broadly underrated at this point. Even if he is viewed as unmolded clay, Holland's athletic profile as a 6-foot-8 wing is difficult to overlook. His first step and coordination on drives, his effectiveness in transition, the constant havoc generated on defense — there's a lot to work with. Every NBA team needs a two-way wing, and every team wants a prospect that checks the intangible boxes Holland does. He works hard. He impacts the game by sheer force of will. That should help him make a living while the skills develop over time.
He needs to figure out the 3-point shot and the turnovers, but there are several teams in the lottery with excellent shooters or high-level guard play. Charlotte, Portland, Memphis, Atlanta, and Oklahoma City stand out as particularly great outcomes for Holland. Even Detroit, with a playmaker like Cade Cunningham. NBA teams just can't put too much on Holland's plate early on. He's going to make positive things happen with his open-floor athleticism, rim pressure, and plus instincts.