Jones’ length and quickness, particularly his foot speed, is what gives him the potential to be a do-it-all defender.
“He can switch and he can guard (point guards) through (centers) for the most part. That’s pretty special,” said Thunder guard Reggie Jackson. “So when he’s out there, he’s comfortable switching with anybody. He’s aggressive. Now, he’s just got to get to the point where he has to play without thinking so much; putting so much pressure on himself. Just go out there and play like he’s playing in his backyard, just hoop.”
In the second quarter Sunday, when he scored six points in six minutes, Jones provided a preview of how he performs when he just relaxes and plays.
He ran the floor for an alley-oop dunk from Jackson.
He nailed a rhythmic catch-and-shoot jumper from the baseline.
He secured an offensive rebound off a Jeremy Lamb miss and converted a putback.
“It’s funny. We joke, especially here, about being young, dumb and athletic,” Jackson said. “We’ve seen some of those plays from him.”
Still, Jones is currently the 11th man in a 10-man rotation, the first victim of what could be the deepest team in Thunder history.
“This year, we probably have more (players) than we’ve ever had that are not playing NBA minutes that probably deserve to play,” Brooks said.
As he waits on few-and-far-between moments like Sunday’s, Jones tries to keep his mind right. He thinks to himself each night might be the night he gets 15 to 20 minutes every night.
“That’s the way I stay mentally prepared,” he said.
Sunday was another small step toward it paying off.
“All the work that he’s putting in isn’t for nothing,” Jackson said. “It’s going to happen.”