Perry Jones was once projected to be a lottery pick. After two seasons at Baylor he declared for the NBA Draft but would slide down the draft board after concerns for the health of his knees arose.
Jones fell all the way to pick No. 28 and the Oklahoma City Thunder, a place where it will be impossible for him not to fit in.
Kevin Durant will make sure of that.
“Perry and I got close over the last few months after we drafted him,” Durant told NBA.com. “I was happy that he reached a goal, a dream that he had been wanting for a long time…We have a good relationship and I’m looking forward to taking him under my wing and also learning a lot with him as well. I’m just trying to help him become the best and I’m sure he’s going to try to help me become the best as well. It’s going to be a fun relationship.”
Jones averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season with Baylor. Those aren’t terribly impressive numbers but at 6-foot-11, he moves like a guard and is very skilled. There are questions about his motor and aggressiveness however which is another reason he dropped so far in the draft.
Jones essentially has all of the tools though. If he would have landed in the wrong city, playing for the wrong coach on a bad team, maybe he would have fizzled out of the league after a few years. But in Oklahoma City, he will be loved, not asked to do much and accepted for what he can contribute by his teammates.
“He’s a guy that really cares about his team and his teammates,” Jones said of Durant. “A lot of people at his level, players like that, most of them care about themselves. It’s very rare to come around a type of player like that who cares about his team.”
The Thunder are a rare organization with a team that has a true sense of family about them. Jones is the next member.
Jones will have a chance to start playing right away for the Thunder. They are in need of a player like him, versatile enough to hang with fours and also quick enough to defend some threes. He will have a chance to crack the 10-man rotation for OKC and if he does, could become a huge contributor for them.
Not a lot will be asked from Jones at first nor will much be expected. Everything he gives the Thunder will be gravy but that might be just what the Thunder need to get over that next hump and win an NBA title.