As his name continued to tumble down the 2012 NBA Draft board, Perry Jones III saw the Thunder selecting at No. 28 and looked right past a young team loaded at his position.
“It was a surprise to me because I didn't think I'd be here in a million years,” Jones told the OKC media days after he was selected with that first-round pick. “Actually on draft night, when the pick came up for them, I was thinking to myself, ‘Well, they don't need me, so they're definitely not going to pick me.' ”
At the time, many lauded it as a steal, a successful young team, coming off a Finals appearance, snaring another lottery-type talent to add to its stocked collection.
But as Jones prepares to enter Year 2, the buzz around his potential has quieted. And, still stuck behind a frontcourt logjam of Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison, Jones has become somewhat of a forgotten man.
Will he ever crack the rotation? Does the Thunder even expect or need him to?
“Perry is in a tough position,” coach Scott Brooks said. “This is not a league where everybody shares minutes. It's a league where you have to be patient if you aren't getting minutes and if you get minutes, you have to continue to earn those minutes. We won a lot of games, and there are a lot of guys ahead of him.”
But regardless of how deep he's buried on the depth chart, Jones' rare physical tools will always make him intriguing.
At a legit 6-foot-11, he's taller than the Thunder's entire starting lineup and a handful of NBA centers, listed as the tallest small forward in the league, tied with Washington's Jan Vesely.
He has ball-handling skills and a respectable perimeter game, with a semi-reliable jumper that can stretch out to 3-point range.
“He's one of the most athletic guys in the league,” Kevin Durant said.
But the problem is, in his limited appearances, Jones just hasn't done enough to stand out.