A quick breakdown of what to expect out of the newest member of the Thunder.
1) Where does PJ3 fit into the rotation next year?
Expect him to get the Cole Aldrich treatment. Translation: PJ3 better start working on his 3-point celebrations. While PJ3 is an elite athlete, he’s not yet NBA ready from a fundamentals standpoint. On most teams, he could be thrown into the deep end and learn on the fly. But the Thunder is a championship-ready ballclub, and Jones will have a hard time getting minutes ahead of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Aldrich. Barring injury to any of those four players, Jones will be on the outside of the rotation looking in. And even though Jones has the potential to play small forward and serve as Kevin Durant’s backup, keep in mind that Durant plays nearly 40 minutes a night. To get the remaining minutes, Jones must not only beat out Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward, but he also has to prove he can defend on the perimeter. It would be expecting a lot from a rookie to accomplish all of that. 2) What position will he primarily be in the NBA?
His size suggests he’ll be a power forward. But his skill set suggests he can slide in at small forward, too. Jones is 6-11 and weighs 235 pounds. He’s got a near 7-foot-2 wingspan and is as an amazing athlete who can both run the floor and jump at an elite level for a player his size. The Thunder’s front office staff has said they won’t pigeonhole him into one position, adding he can play any spot from small forward to center. But based on Jones’ size, skill set and preferred style of play, he seems to be suited for being a stretch 4, or a power forward who can step out to the perimeter and hit jump shots.
3) How much post scoring can he provide?
This is not his strong suit. Not yet anyway. Jones must get stronger in order to hold his position on the low block, develop his footwork and establish a go-to move. He won’t outclass many players in the NBA with his athleticism, and he will out-muscle even fewer. He’ll have to put in a lot of work to develop into the low-post scorer that the Thunder sorely lacks. According to DraftExpress.com, Jones scored just 0.795 points per possession on post-ups last year at Baylor, ranking last among NCAA players. But you can clearly see his potential. He owns entirely too many physical gifts to not be capable of expanding his game. The question is will he want to? 4) What kind of defender is Jones, and how will his defensive skills translate to the NBA game?
Jones’ length alone gives him the potential to be a pesky defender. Mix in his agility and ability to get off the floor quickly to challenge shots and you have the makings of a strong defensive player. At this stage in his career, though, Jones looks like a better perimeter defender than post defender. His lack of strength makes it easy for him to get pushed around down low, but his length and quickness allows him to bother perimeter-oriented players. In the NBA, he might be stuck in no man’s land for his first few seasons with opponents owning just as much athleticism, and much more strength, as he does. But, again, the potential is there. Jones comes in with the skills to defend small forwards, power forwards and centers. He won’t be able to guard each of those positions with consistent effectiveness from day one but, in time, there’s a good chance he figures it out. 5) What number will he wear?
There’s a strong possibility he will wear No. 3. That was his number in high school. PJ3 wore No. 1 last year, but that number has been retired by the franchise in honor of Gus Williams, who starred for the Sonics in the late 70s and early 80s in Seattle. Jones wore No. 5 as a freshman at Baylor, but that number is taken by Kendrick Perkins, who had to change from No. 43 when he arrived from Boston because 43 has been retired in honor of Jack Sikma. We know, it makes no sense. But that’s just the way things are for now. -DM-