March 09, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baylor Bears forward Perry Jones III (1) dribbles the ball as Kansas Jayhawks forward Kevin Young (40) defends during the second half of the semifinal round of the 2012 Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center. Baylor won Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

How will Perry Jones III fit in with the Oklahoma City Thunder?

Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Perry Jones III may very well have been the steal of the draft for the Oklahoma City Thunder, drafting him 28th overall.

The Thunder did not expect to see Jones III on the board at this point but were more than happy to select him.

“We felt very comfortable making this selection at 28,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said. “We looked at all the information that we had available, and we wouldn’t have selected him unless we felt comfortable with all the information.”

Presti went on to say how he saw Jones III in his first ever college practice at Baylor and spoke to his coach there who described Jones III as someone who really cares about what he’s doing on the basketball court and of course, quite the amazing athlete.

The more you think about Jones III on this Thunder team, the more it seems like a perfect fit. His personality should blend right in with the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

“We really see him as a blend player,” Presti said. “We see great value in the fact that he’s incredibly talented, but he’s able to play within a team and understand how he can impact a game. He doesn’t need to be forcing the issue at all times. And with our particular team, we feel like that’s a huge quality that we looked at as a positive for us.”

But how much can we expect from Jones III during his rookie season? There are concerns regarding the health of his knee. Will he make the rotation?

The general consensus right now around the local media that cover the Thunder is that there aren’t a lot of immediate expectations for Jones III and that he may not be in the rotation to start.

“We won’t pigeonhole him,” assistant GM Troy Weaver said of Jones’ future position. “We think he can play anywhere on the front line. He’s a versatile player. The coaches will handle that. But we see his versatility as a strength.”

The Thunder will look to have a 10-man rotation once the season starts and Jones III actually has a very good chance of cutting into it. They will have the same starters as last season with Harden and Nick Collison as the first two off the bench.

Eric Maynor will be back from injury and will take over Derek Fisher’s backup point duties, assuming the Thunder don’t re-sign Fisher. Daequan Cook will continue his role as 3-point specialist leaving one more spot for Jones III to compete for.

Cole Aldrich has been in line waiting to step into the rotation and now with Nazr Mohammed likely gone he may. But Jones III could compete and beat Aldrich for that spot. The best case scenario for the Thunder would be if Jones III does crack the rotation.

You see, Jones III is exactly the type of player OKC was missing in the playoffs. They needed another versatile athlete to throw on LeBron or be able to grab rebounds while also defending quicker players.

In the playoffs, the Kendrick Perkins trade where OKC sent away Jeff Green started to look like a bad idea, if only Green was healthy. The Thunder were really missing that stretch 3-4 guy who can make some plays, defend a lot of positions and rebound.

Jones III can be exactly that for the Thunder. He won’t be the ball handler that Green was but he is bigger and just as athletic if not more. He’s not going to protect the rim like Serge Ibaka but he’ll be better to have out there than Fisher trying to take charges all the time.

We all keep reminding ourselves that Jones III could have been a lottery pick, this year or the last. That means he really should be getting a solid chunk of minutes for the Thunder next season.

“Everybody looks at his talent and says this guy should be dominant,” Weaver said. “But he plays within a teamwork and tries to blend with players and help his team win ballgames.”

One thing is for certain that the Thunder players will embrace him. Any down feelings Jones III had for slipping so late in the first round will be immediately erased when he steps on the floor with the most exciting team in the NBA.

This may be the typical overreaction immediately following the draft but there’s a few things we know about this Thunder team. One is that they will win a championship whether it’s this next season or soon after. Jones III will be integral in helping them do so.

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Tags: Baylor Cole Aldrich Daequan Cook Derek Fisher Eric Maynor James Harden Jeff Green Kendrick Perkins Kevin Durant LeBron James NBA Draft Nick Collison Oklahoma City Thunder Perry Jones III Russell Westbrook Sam Presti Serge Ibaka

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