Just about every team in the NBA passed on Perry Jones in the 2012 NBA Draft. Jones, who was projected as a lottery selection following his freshman season with Baylor, saw his draft stick really take a hit after progressing minimally in his sophomore season and being red flagged due to a past knee injury.
The risk started to outweigh the potential and Jones fell all the way out of the lottery and into the late-20s. There were the Oklahoma City Thunder though waiting for him and ready to swoop in and add another lottery-level talent to their young roster.
It immediately seemed like the perfect fit. While Jones may project to fizzle out of the league after a few seasons in another city, OKC is thought of as somewhere he will be given everything he needs to succeed. He won’t be asked to be a superstar since there are already three or four superstars on the Thunder roster.
He will just be asked to come to work every day and do his best and he’ll be getting asked this by one of the hardest workers in the NBA and best players: Kevin Durant.
“Anytime we work out,” Jones said. “[Durant] always makes sure we are matched up together.”
Jones has some similarities to Durant. He is a skilled 6-foot-11 forward that can play some three or four depending on the matchup. He will bring the Thunder an added element of versatility if he pans out and plays with confidence. Going head-to-head vs. the 3-time defending scoring champ every practice has to help prepare him.
If all goes well, Jones can really turn into just what the Thunder were missing from last season. In their matchup with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, the Thunder roster suddenly seemed slim trying to match up with LeBron James. When Durant got in foul trouble, they were forced to turn to the undersized James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha.
Jones isn’t going to be a LeBron-stopper as a rookie or anything like that but he will be a valuable piece to throw at LeBron’s way and give the Thunder another option. The league is moving toward an era where positions are mattering less and less. Versatility is king and that is what Jones provides most above anything else.
Thunder fans were excited on draft night when they heard Jones’ name called with the 28th overall pick. OKC wasn’t supposed to do much to improve with just that pick in the draft but they ended up getting as talented a player as possible at that spot.
Thunder fans should be even more excited to here Jones talk about how Durant is there to bring him along in the NBA. One of the first things you think when you see Jones is that he is an impressionable young guy. Lucky for OKC, Durant will be the one making the impression on the rookie this season and the result can’t be anything but good.