In his first two seasons, despite extremely limited playing time, Perry Jones had some promising performances.
The best came in a Thunder win in Miami this past January, when Jones played 30 minutes, hit an important 3-pointer and guarded LeBron James most of the second half.
But they’ve been few and far between. On a roster loaded with talent, he hasn’t received many chances. And he hasn’t done enough with those limited ones to earn more.
So this sets up as an important offseason for Jones, with Nick Collison’s game declining and some playing time potentially up for grabs. And it started off well, with a strong performance in the summer league.
But a setback came on Monday afternoon, when it was announced that Jones underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which means he should still be ready for training camp. But as he angles for opportunity and needs to show improvement, Jones will be on the mend for an important developmental period.
And quietly for Jones, this has become a bit of a theme throughout the early stages of his professional career. He hasn’t had any injury problems during the season.
But all three offseasons have come with health issues.
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.