Thunder rookie forward Perry Jones III can play the No. 3 and No. 4 positions. Either/or.
Or neither/nor, when you're backing up three-time NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant.
Exactly what does the future hold when your only designated position is backing up a four-time All-Star who since he entered the league six years ago has logged more minutes (17,595) than any player?
Is there possibly a more concealed existence than being Durant's backup?
“It could be a good thing because I can play multiple positions,” Jones said. “If he (coach Scott Brooks) needs me to play the 2 at one point, hopefully I can help and play the 2. But it could be a bad thing if he feels like I'm not ready to play the 2 yet, or I'm not ready to play the 4 yet because of my strength or something. But that's about it.”
Being a backup at multiple positions indeed is a good thing, unless you're backing up a guy who plays four different positions himself.
Working in Jones' favor is that teammates and coaches believe he has the talent to someday get significant minutes — particularly Durant, who quickly placed the Baylor standout under his wing (or 7-foot-5 wingspan) after being selected No. 28 overall in last year's draft.
“We're excited about what he brings,” Brooks said last October, when Jones was the talk of training camp. “We're excited about his effort and his energy and the person that he is, but he's also a rookie. He's a guy that can play multiple positions, and he can guard multiple players, and that's always a big asset to our team.”
During Summer League ball in Orlando last July, assistant Mark Bryant said of Jones: “He can make some passes. You guys haven't really seen him make passes yet. He's a pretty good passer. He's going to be a pretty special player when it's all said and done. … I'm not saying he's Lamar Odom yet, but he seems like he could be that type of player.”
In the preseason, Jones played six games, averaged 21.4 minutes, 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and shot 57.1 percent from the floor.
In the regular season, Jones had 38 appearances, averaged 7.4 minutes, 2.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and shot 39.4 percent from the floor.
Jones did make 19 starts (15 in the regular season) with the Tulsa 66ers in the Developmental League, where he had some bright moments.
— Against the Canton Charge on Dec. 28, Jones had a career-high 26 points and shot 11 for 16 from the field.
— Against the Texas Legends on Jan. 5, Jones had 25 points and 16 rebounds, although it came in a 36-point loss at home.
— In a series-clinching playoff victory against Canton on April 14, Jones had 20 points, seven rebounds and shot 8 for 12 from the field in his finale with the 66ers.
“It was great,” Jones said of his time in Tulsa. “It had me prepared for a lot of games. When coaches put me in I was ready to play, because in the D-League it's a lot of older guys. It's just like playing in the NBA. There's a lot of good guys in the D-League. There's just not enough space in the NBA.”