Soon after he was drafted, Jones sprained his ankle in his first summer league game. He was sidelined for the rest of a week that’s long been important in the introduction of rookies to the Thunder’s organization.
Then, as he prepared to play a big role for OKC’s summer league team in the 2013 offseason, Jones was forced to get an emergency oral surgery. It was nothing serious, just ill-timed. He again was forced to miss summer league, which turned out to be crucial to the development of Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb, but not Jones.
This season, though, Jones was finally able to participate. And it was beneficial. He showed improved aggressiveness, putting his rare athleticism to good use on both ends. Jones averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, nailing nine of his 19 threes. In OKC’s final game, he had 20 points and eight rebounds, nailing 4-of-6 from three.
“Glad I finally participated in a full summer league this year,” Jones wrote in a recent Instagram post.
But the offseason extends beyond the summer league. These next few months are important in a player’s development. And once again, Jones will have to use a portion of it nursing an injury.