Perry Jones has a bit of a problem.
He has a propensity for passivity.
The knock on the newest member of the Thunder during his two-year career at Baylor was that too often he had a tendency to disappear. More often than not, he was the best player on the floor but didn't play like it. When it seemed he could single-handedly take over a game, Jones sometimes shied away from the moment.
But what others see as a problem, the Thunder views as a positive.
“Everybody looks at his talent and says this guy should be dominant,” said Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver. “But he plays within a teamwork and tries to blend with players and help his team win ballgames.”
It was Jones' inexplicable inconsistency, in addition to questions about a knee issue, that allowed the one-time projected lottery selection to slide to the Thunder at the 28th pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft.
The Thunder, though, thinks Jones was simply being a team player.
“We're not concerned about how assertive he is because he has a tremendous work ethic,” Weaver said. “He brings his hard hat every day. But he's just a guy that just tries to fit in and help the team win.”
A quick look at Jones' first 15 games from this past season illustrates how erratic he was. His point totals in those games: 27, 12, eight, 28, six, 14, four, eight, 14, nine, 17, 19, 18, eight and 21. Jones' final 18 games followed that same pattern.
In fact, Jones scored in single digits in 12 of his 33 games this past season. He registered five points or less in five of those games. As a sophomore, Jones' statistical production remained almost identical to his outputs as a freshman — only he averaged fewer points, blocked shots and free-throw attempts while seeing his field-goal percentage dip from 54 percent to 50 percent.
“His numbers were down, but they won more games,” Weaver said. “So I think he tried to blend more, help his teammates more and understand that coming back, taking more of a leadership role, he had to kind of spread his wings a little more and spread his game out.”
Baylor went 18-13 (7-9 in Big 12 Conference play) in Jones' freshman season. This past year, however, the Bears went 30-8 (12-6 in conference play) and advanced to the Elite Eight.
The Thunder is betting on a Jones as a teammate. Oklahoma City will trust the 28th overall pick is a natural-born winner who simply doesn't mind taking a backseat.
The Thunder is banking on Jones' head and his heart being in the right place as he prepares to begin his professional career as part of Oklahoma City's program.
Ultimately, the Thunder has Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant commanding most of the touches offensively. So it might have worked out for the best that Jones doesn't mind playing second fiddle.
On this team, he'll need to, and the Thunder drafted him with that in mind.
“We really see him as a blend player,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti. “We see great value in the fact that he's incredibly talented, but he's able to play within a team and understand how he can impact a game.
“He doesn't need to be forcing the issue at all times. And with our particular team, we feel like that's a huge quality that we looked at as a positive for us.”