OKC Thunder: Perry Jones' path to playing time comes from the bench

After minimal minutes as a rookie, second-year forward making the most of his time on the court
Oklahoman Published: December 23, 2013
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photo - Oklahoma City's Perry Jones (3) dunks the ball during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Toronto Raptors at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. Oklahoma City won 107-95. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Perry Jones (3) dunks the ball during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Toronto Raptors at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. Oklahoma City won 107-95. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

The game was tied at 93 with 4 1/2 minutes to play.

Oklahoma City was unexpectedly getting all it could handle from a scrappy Toronto squad on Sunday night.

An unblemished home record was on the line. The league’s best record was in peril.

And in that moment, Thunder coach Scott Brooks turned to Perry Jones III.

Brooks called on the second-year forward in a rare crunch time situation, trusting in him to help close out the game. Toronto ultimately stunned the Thunder, winning by six, but those final five minutes revealed the role Brooks envisions Jones filling.

“He’s like the guy that I think about on our team that can be our utility defender,” Brooks said.

Meet the path to Perry Jones’ playing time.

After minimal minutes as a rookie — just 280 over the course of 38 games — Jones is seeing spot minutes in his sophomore season. But he’s making the most of them, providing all-around contributions nearly each time he takes the court.

In the eight games in which Jones has logged at least 10 minutes, he’s averaged 6.1 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 52.6 percent. He’s made 5 of 12 3-pointers (41.6 percent), and the Thunder is 6-2 in those games.

But despite his world-class athleticism and tremendous potential, Brooks is asking him to focus on using his versatility to be a multipurpose defender.

Late in Sunday’s game, Brooks used Jones to better matchup with Raptors forwards DeMar DeRozan, John Salmons and Amir Johnson, a trio that stretches from 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-9 and poses problems due to their length and athleticism.

Jones was viewed as the equalizer.

“I felt that his length could affect some of their shots,” Brooks said. “I thought he did a good job.”

Jones contributed more good than bad in his crunch time minutes. He missed a corner 3-pointer that would have given OKC a one-point lead. But he grabbed an offensive rebound, which led to a trip to the foul line, and, most importantly, his man didn’t score.

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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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