Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

Perry Jones impressive in first NBA Summer League game for Oklahoma City Thunder

Perry Jones scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds in 29 minutes of action in his first NBA Summer League game with the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday afternoon.

The Thunder lost 73-65 to the Boston Celtics but the final scores of these games don’t really matter.

Reggie Jackson also played well for the Thunder scoring 19 points to go with two assists and Lazar Hayward added 18 points and nine rebounds.

Jared Sullinger led the Celtics with 20 points and six rebounds.

Summer league games are only 40 minutes long and feel a lot like scrimmages. Players can’t foul out and most of the players are trying to make an NBA team so there is a lot of extra effort on every play. It’s not the calm, under controlled game we’re used to watching in the NBA.

Jones stood out from the start simply by his physical presence. He is listed at 6-foot-11 and 235 pounds with a 7-foot-2 inch wingspan.

The first thing you notice with Jones is how well he moves for his size. A lot of players are described in the way Jones is as having “all of the tools” to play in the NBA but when you watch them play you can still notice something wrong with them.

That isn’t the case with Jones at all. He is very fluid and runs the floor like a three. He didn’t get pushed around either although it is clear he is much more comfortable on the perimeter as a stretch-four type.

His first bucket was a follow-up putback at the rim then he scored next taking a big man off the dribble, going between his legs and finishing an and-one layup.

Jones settled for a lot of spot-up jumpers from midrange. The Thunder used him in a lot of pick-and-rolls mostly as a pick-and-pop man with Cole Aldrich being the roller most times. He hit a few jumpers including a three and drove to the rim nicely a few times as well.

His game reminds you a little of Earl Clark or Rashard Lewis with less range. He is a great athlete and should be able to defend will immediately in the NBA. He’s not going to love banging down low for boards but still comes up with some simply from his athletic prowess.

He looked great in this first game and Thunder fans should be excited for him. It could have been a lot worse. He could have looked more unassertive and less skilled but that wasn’t the case at all. Once he is plugged into the Thunder’s rotation and has been with the team for awhile, he should fit in very nicely.

The only other player who really looked good for OKC was Jackson. Jackson was thrust into the rotation last season after Eric Maynor tore his ACL and wasn’t very memorable in his rookie campaign.

Jackson is a very good athlete though and has some NBA skills that will clearly allow him to play in the league for awhile. He is not the best decision-maker yet but looked more decisive in this type of atmosphere as he did not have to defer at all.

Jackson’s arms are so long too and it makes you feel like he could really turn into a great defender who gets a lot of steals like a Mario Chalmers. He also is a pretty good finisher inside with a euro-step and can elevate when he needs to as well.

Jackson is not a great point guard yet though. He only had two assists and rarely makes a great pass. Once he gets more comfortable and improves in that area he could prove to be of some value for the Thunder going forward.

Cole Aldrich was maybe the biggest name Thunder fans hoped would impress in these Summer League games. He definitely didn’t in this first one scoring one point, going 0-for-4 from the field and grabbing seven boards.

The first thing you notice with Aldrich is that he does seem like he needs to get in the weight room more. He doesn’t hold his ground well enough yet on offense or defense.

He does possess good instincts and in the Thunder’s second unit as the backup center could produce some but he still feels pretty far away from much of anything. The Celtics didn’t have a lot of competition out there fOR him and you’re just waiting for Aldrich to step up and he didn’t.

Perhaps this type of less-controlled setting doesn’t suit Aldrich too well. Players don’t care about going over the back or banging over-aggressively since they can’t foul out and maybe that’s why it looked like Aldrich got pushed around.

Aldrich shouldn’t be much of a drop off from Nazr Mohammed as the backup center for OKC next season but after watching this game (and I know it’s only one Summer League game), Perry Jones looks so much better and it will be frustrating if Aldrich gets significantly more minutes than him next season, although understandable and probably expected.

The Thunder will continue to play Summer League games in Orlando the rest of the week. Hasheem Thabeet can sign with the Thunder as early as Wednesday which means he could play in a few games starting then.

The Thunder will play the Indiana Pacers tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on NBATV.

Tags: Boston Celtics Cole Aldrich Jared Sullinger Lazar Haywood NBA Summer League Oklahoma City Thunder Perry Jones Reggie Jackson

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