Jones turned the tide against the Heat. Why couldn’t he do the same against the Spurs?
I’m not saying he’s some sort of defensive savant. But he’s 6-foot-11. He’s got a 7-foot-plus wing span. He’s agile. He’s lively. Could he struggle some with the Spurs’ pick-and-roll offense? Sure. But could it be much worse than what we saw much of Monday night?
Jones, for one, feels like he could have an impact in this series.
“I always feel like that,” he told me after practice Tuesday. “As a basketball player, I always feel I can do something to help out the team. All I can do is stay ready, and hopefully when my name gets called, if it does and the opportunity presents itself, I’ll try the best I can.”
When the Heat came to Oklahoma City, Jones played less than he had in Miami. He didn’t have as much success against LeBron, but that was Russell Westbrook’s first game back after his midseason knee surgery, so everything was a bit out of whack. But Jones wasn’t all bad. He scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, nailed the lone 3-pointer that he attempted and grabbed five rebounds.
He’s good enough offensively to make defenses keep an eye on him. He can run the floor and help the Thunder try to push the tempo. He can stress the Spurs’ defense and help spread it out to open things a bit more for Durant and Westbrook.
Listen, I’m not suggesting that Jones is a superhero hiding in plain sight, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to give him a shot.
Brooks hasn’t ruled out the possibility that Jones could play more as this series continues.
“He’s definitely activated,” the coach said, “and he has an opportunity to step in there.”
Two years ago when Oklahoma City and San Antonio met in the Western Conference Finals, another defensive switch flipped the series. Brooks decided to take Russell Westbrook off Tony Parker and put Thabo Sefolosha on the Spurs’ speedy point guard.
Sefolosha changed the series.
So could Jones.
He isn’t a savior. But he might just be a series changer. And right now, that’s what the Thunder needs most.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.