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The Book On Perry Jones

by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 29, 2012

News, notes and nuggets from Thursday night's selection of Perry Jones III.

  • Thunder general manager Sam Presti: "We didn't enter this draft thinking that Perry Jones would be there at 28 for us."
  • Chalk it up to an alleged knee issue that caused Jones, who shall be referred to as PJ3, to slip. A year ago, he was a projected top 10 pick.
  • "Perry Jones obviously is an extremely talented individual and somebody that we feel very fortunate to be able to add to our team," said Presti.
  • Lots of questions about why PJ3 slipped so far. Those questions were posed to Presti and assistant GM Troy Weaver. And, again, it came back to the knee. "People probably had questions about medicals...I would think that maybe that had something to do with it," said Weaver. "Maybe people didn't do their homework as well. I'm not sure. But I would think that the medical had something to do with it because he was projected to be picked higher."
  • A little more from Presti: "Sometimes, it's kind of like a chessboard so to speak. Once things start to happen, there's a real trickle down effect. Certain teams are locked in on certain players, and certain teams have different needs. And the next thing you know, guys that you don't anticipate being there start to fall to you. Sometimes, guys that you don't anticipate being there fall to you and you can't capitalize. This time, we felt like we could."
  • Presti expressed a great deal of confidence in Jones' knee. He said the team has done a lot of research and "felt very comfortable making this selection at 28." "We looked at all the information that we had available, and we wouldn't have selected him unless we felt comfortable with all the information," Presti said.
  • Presti declined to say whether PJ3 will require surgery on his knee. But he reiterated that the organization felt comfortable with the alleged issue. "Before I say too much, what I'd like to do is just make sure our group has a chance to see him and get a baseline where he is," Presti said. "But as I said before, he had an incredible athletic testing performance at the pre-draft combine and has played two seasons at Baylor consistently. But we need to let those guys get a baseline as to where he is and how we can continue to improve him as an athlete."
  • Presti was asked whether this selection had any sort of "DeJuan Blair effect," as in not letting a talent again slip away because of health concerns. Presti, perhaps shockingly, said "I don't know." It wasn't a real 'I don't know.' It felt like much more of an 'I'm not going to answer that with the truth I don't know.'
  • Of course, a question about the James Harden-for-Bradley Beal rumor had to be posed to Presti. And, of course, Presti didn't give anything remotely close to an answer nor anything remotely as good as "To me, it's rubbish." Here's what Presti said about the rumor that had Thunder heads running wild for 24 hours. "I couldn't tell you where that stuff starts, because we don't pay a whole lot of attention to it," Presti said. "All I can say is it's that time of year. James Harden is a coveted player. But I don't think anyone covets him as much as we do. He's a player that, as we've said before, has really grown with this organization and we're really excited about having him."
  • Presti said he attended PJ3's first college practice. "I remember it sticking out to me the fact that he was a freshman that was out there early before anybody else," Presti said. "We feel really strongly about his work ethic in combination with a lot of physical gifts that he has."
  • Presti said the him and his staff asked PJ3's college coach, Scott Drew, to sum up PJ3 in three words. They were: "Great teammate, caring and humble."
  • I know. That's four words.
  • At any rate. "Those are traits that we feel are really important to our program here," Presti said. "Additionally, we just feel like he blends with us as an organization on and off the floor."
  • Jones, according to Presti, is 6-10.25" without shoes and has 4.5 percent body fat.
  • Is PJ3 more of a 3 or a 4 at the NBA level? "We won't pigeonhole him," said Weaver. "We think he can play anywhere on the front line. He's a versatile player. The coaches will handle that. But we see his versatility as a strength."
  • Now, about PJ3's propensity for passivity on the court. It might have just been spin, but Weaver and Presti made PJ3's up-and-downs out to be a positive. "Everybody looks at his talent and says this guy should be dominant," Weaver said. "But he plays within a teamwork and tries to blend with players and help his team win ballgames."
  • More from Weaver: "We're not that concerned about how assertive he is because he has a tremendous work ethic. He brings his hard hat every day. But he's just a guy that just tries to fit in and help the team win. I remember people saying that about different players like Tayshaun Prince and stuff like that. But Tayshaun just tried to help his team win and Perry is the same type of guy. He just tries to help his team win."
  • Now there's a comparison, not that Weaver was comparing the two. But if Perry James Jones III is anything, anything at all, like Tayshaun Durell Prince, he won't just be a steal. He'll easily be the best pick in the last 10 years.
  • A quick look at PJ3's first 15 games this season illustrates how erratic he was. Here are his point totals in those games: 27, 12, 8, 28, 6, 14, 4, 8, 14, 9, 17, 19, 18, 8, 21...The same type of pattern was seen over his final 18 games.
  • Take a look at PJ3's numbers from his freshman to his sophomore season. The thing that stands out is he didn't take a big jump in anything. As a matter of fact, he actually averaged fewer points, blocks and free throw attempts, while shooting a much worse percentage from the field. Weaver again looked at the glass as half full. "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."
  • I don't know what to think about PJ3's passivity, to be honest. But I know that Presti brought up a great point, one that I think we should all file in the memory bank for two or three years down the line. At some point, it will come into play. "We really see him as a blend player," Presti said. "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." Amen to that. With Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant seemingly set to be together for years to come, the Thunder doesn't need another player who wants and needs the ball. Whenever PJ3 cracks the rotation, it will be a luxury to have a talented big man who can get you 20 one night but also be content with taking a lesser role as a scorer yet still gobble up 10 boards and block four shots the next.
  • Baylor played a lot of zone, which naturally hides players on defense. But when asked about PJ3's defensive skills, Weaver spoke highly of him. "I think he rates pretty solid," Weaver said. "He can defend. He's long. He can guard multiple positions...I think that his versatility and his length would lend to him being a solid defender here."
  • Weaver said PJ3 has shooting range out to the college 3 with consistency.
  • Can PJ3 provide low-post scoring? That's, of course, the one thing Thunder heads near and far want most on this team. But as you might expect, Presti shut it down by sidestepping questions about PJ3's ability to be an effective post scorer. "I think we have to be careful," Presti said. "I think we have to get him in and kind of see where he is before we try to establish what it is he's going to give us."
  • PJ3 did not come to Oklahoma City for a workout. The Thunder saw him at the pre-draft camp in Chicago.
  • Presti on what about PJ3 to him has stood out the most over the past two years: "I think humility. I think he's a very, very humble person."
  • Asked about the conversation he had with PJ3 tonight, Presti declined to go into specifics. But he said PJ3 demonstrated his humility. "The first thing he did was thank us for the opportunity," Presti said. "We're excited about having somebody like that. He's our type of person in terms of his approach and his humility."
  • Presti said he anticipates PJ3 being with the team for the Orlando Summer League, which runs July 9-13.
  • With a starting five that is shaping up to include Reggie Jackson, Lazar Hayward, Latavious Williams, PJ3 and Cole Aldrich, the Thunder is quite likely to dominate the Orlando Summer League.
  • Not really Thunder related, but other notable rookies that could be competing in Orlando are Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo for Boston, Andre Drummond for Detroit, Mo Harkless for Philadelphia and Tyshawn Taylor for Brooklyn.
  • Taylor will be a great challenge for Jackson. I can't wait to see that. If both are healthy and competing, it will go down Thursday, July 12 at noon.
  • I asked Presti about Jeff Green-gate. He declined further comment after NBA commissioner David Stern. But Presti did confirm that it is indeed Charlotte's 2013 second-round pick that will be sent to Boston. I didn't ask why it's that one, which I am now kicking myself for failing to do. I'll get that answer and get back.
  • Jones is scheduled to be introduced in OKC in the next couple of days. Nothing's been set yet, but it seems likely to be Saturday.
-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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