Perry Jones Impresses In Summer League Debut
Nuggets from my notebook from the Thunder’s 73-65 loss to Boston on Monday at summer league.
- Perry Jones didn’t disappoint. In his first game in a Thunder uniform, the 28th overall pick impressed a gym filled with GMs, coaches, scouts, opposing players and media members. Jones started at power forward and scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He was 7-for-17 from the field and in disbelief afterward that he took 17 shots, our first indication of just how much of a team player he is. Reggie Jackson had to remind Jones that his 17 shots came in the flow of the offense.
- It wouldn’t have mattered if Jones took 25 shots had a couple of his mid-range jumpers fell. Six of Jones’ 10 misses came from 14 feet and beyond. He looks comfortable taking mid-range jumpers, but it isn’t exactly a strength at this point. You saw flashes of his potential, however. He even hit a 3 from the top of the arc.
- Jones took the 3 with incredible confidence. That shot was a microcosm of his entire afternoon. Said Thunder coach Mark Bryant: “It seems like he’s been here before, right? Very calming type player. Very confident in himself. I think he’s going to be all right. He surprised me. I got a chance to see him play during the summertime, but some of the things he did surprised me. He stepped out and looked very comfortable shooting that 3. I don’t know if we want him (laughs)…but he looked very comfortable.”
- The most impressive thing about Jones’ performance was how he impressed with his athleticism and versatility. He scored in a variety of ways and was sound defensively. His first bucket came when he crashed the offensive glass and tipped in a miss by Jackson. After two missed mid-range jumpers, he abused 22nd overall pick Fab Melo with a in an isolation, driving past the former Syracuse big man for an and one. He later hit a baseline jumper over Melo. In all, Jones showed how much of a mismatch he can be on the offensive end. If he’s got a big man on him, he can drive around him or step out and be a stretch 4. If he’s got a smaller man on him, he can go inside for easy buckets (but not out of the post just yet, not with consistency).
- Bryant: “Perry showed some flashes of a really doggone good player. I think he’s going to be a pretty good player in this league. He put the ball on the ground a little bit, showed some flashes that he can get to the hole. The young guy has a lot to learn, but he can play. He definitely can play.”
- It’s not crazy to say Jones stole the show on the first day. As he was doing his thing, he had both Heat and Pacers fans on Twitter steaming. The Pacers took Miles Plumlee (who I’m willing to go on record right now and say will never help an NBA team) two spots ahead of Jones, and the Heat drafted Arnett Moultrie right in front of Jones but traded Moultrie to Philadelphia for the draft rights to 45th overall pick Justin Hamilton and a future first-rounder. The buzz in Orlando after the first day was that the Thunder got a steal.
- Bryant raved about Jones’ passing ability, saying that we have yet to see what he is truly capable of in that department. “He can make some passes,” Bryant said. “You guys haven’t really seen him make passes yet. He’s a pretty good passer. He’s going to be a pretty special player when it’s all said and done.”
- Everyone wants to know which position Jones will play primarily and what type of player he could be. Bryant has an idea of what he could turn into, and it’s a pretty good one. “I’m not saying he’s Lamar Odom yet, but he seems like he could be that type of player,” Bryant said. Who wouldn’t take that?
- Jackson struggled to finish plays early in the game, and he was out of sync along with everyone else for the Thunder offensively. But he picked it up and got better as the game went along. He finished with a team-high 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting and was the only real offensive threat the Thunder had for much of the game. (That could be a theme this week.)
- Defensively, Jones was solid. He started out on Celtics forward JaJuan Johnson and defended Jared Sullinger a bunch, too. He took Johnson completely out of the game (or Johnson just might not be any good for all I know. Either way, Johnson had three points on 1-for-5 shooting). And Sullinger didn’t get many against Jones individually. There was one trip in particular in the first half in which PJ3 stayed down on a series of Sullinger pump fakes. It showed some nice fundamentals.
- While it’s only one game, I agree with Jackson about Jones after one game. “You can’t ever question his motor,” Jackson said. “You can’t question his determination.”
- Cole Aldrich didn’t look so great today. And I’m being kind. He had one point, missed all four of his shots, grabbed seven rebounds, had three fouls, three turnovers, one blocked shot and one assist in 31 minutes. Two of his turnovers were illegal screens. (Aldrich is either going to set the best screen ever or it’ll be illegal. Be prepared for it.)
- Aldrich actually looked like he was going to get off to a great start. On his first touch, he made a strong, quick move from the left block. He just missed the little jump hook, but it was an impressive and unexpected move. Unfortunately, it was pretty much downhill from there.
- I’ll give Aldrich credit for this. He played hard, something Bryant agreed with. “It was the first game,” Bryant said. “He hasn’t played in like two years, so this is like his first big-time game. I thought he did all right. And he will get better throughout the week.”
- Lazar Hayward also struggled with his shot early, missing all eight of his attempts in the first half before scoring 18 points on 4-for-14 shooting. Hayward was another one who continued to play hard, though. He had a team-high nine rebounds, a steal and a block. If he can start knocking down more shots, he does have some value.
- Bryant on Hayward: “Lazar had some good looks, they just didn’t go in for him. But he still played aggressive, he played defense, he was into the game and he didn’t let those shots that he missed affect him defensively. He was building guys up, and that’s what we want. He’s going to hit those shots.”
- I know a lot of fans bag on Hayward. But after watching him in this setting, I really see what he brings. He gives 100 percent every second he’s on the floor. He hustles. He’s strong. He’s tough. He leads. He communicates. Throughout the game, he was encouraging his teammates, saying whatever he could to get them to get a stop, a rebound, anything positive. I would bet that every last Thunder player loves playing with Lazar for those reasons.
- One more thing about PJ3. You can already tell, he’s one of those players who’ll be even better when he gets around better teammates. But will he be able to keep up this pace against better opponents?
- As expected, Hasheem Thabeet is in Orlando. As I wrote for Monday’s paper, it’s not out of the question that he plays later this week after signing his contract, perhaps as early as Wednesday.
- Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook also are in Orlando working out. The two of them and Thabeet sat courtside near the Thunder’s bench.
- Worse part about today is that Latavious Williams could not compete. He’s waiting on some type of paperwork to be finalized with FIBA so he can be cleared to play. He is expected to be able to play Tuesday.
- Up next: Thunder vs. Indiana at noon Tuesday.
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