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Off-season report card: Perry Jones III

The Oklahoma City Thunder got a steal in the 2012 NBA Draft when they selected Perry Jones III out of Baylor. Once thought of as a lottery pick, questions about his knees and his endurance allowed him to fall right out of the lottery and into the lap of Sam Presti who quickly pounced on the young talent. While things haven’t gone according to plan so far, there is no doubting the talent and knack for the game of basketball that Jones possesses.

So let’s have a look at his off-season report card.

Offensive Grade: C

While we haven’t been able to gauge much of the offensive prowess of Jones due to lack of playing time and opportunity, from his time at Baylor we do know that he can score the basketball, however in the NBA we have only seen a taste of what he can do. We have seen a dedication to extending the range on his jumpshot which is nice and he has legitimate three point range, especially in the corners which is becoming an increasingly important shot in the modern day game. He has the size and strength to post up as well but hasn’t utilized this much and doesn’t finish as strongly as you would hope. In transition he is terrific, filling the lane and finishing using his athleticism but they are few and far between.

Key for improvement – Keep working on his jumpshot and make it consistently on a catch and shoot but also off the dribble. Needs to also become more aggressive and start to use his strength and athleticism to attack defenders because at the moment they leave him to help on Durant, Ibaka, Westbrook etc.

Defensive Grade: B

We have already noted his lack of playing time being an issue which is a common theme for a bench / deep rotation guy, and it affects his defensive rating here as well. Jones is a very solid defender though and uses his physical tools to ensure he is a headache for opponents. He is strong and long and knows how to position himself. As a one on one defender, he denies well, rarely gambles and makes you shoot over him. In short – he makes life tough for the offense and is a versatile defender. More opportunities to show it would be great, but you just have to re-watch his shut down job on LeBron James in the regular season to see what he is capable of.

Keys for improvement – Jones needs to work on the team defensive concept and he really needs to impose himself. Very similar to his offensive game, Jones has the tools but not the attitude to really take on the challenge and be the best that he can be. If he can work on his mental prowess as well as continue his development on team defense, he could become the next best “D & 3″ guy on this squad.

Intangibles: C+

If this was broken down into physical and mental categories, then it would be an A and a D respectively, but the overall package is a C+. Perry Jones III has the talent, the body and the athletic ability to be a solid part of the Thunder rotation. He is equally as gifted as say Kawhi Leonard, but just doesn’t have the temperament as yet – and may never. Jones mentioned in his exit interview that he needed to really switch on and focus on using his athletic ability. If he gets it right, it will be downright scary, but even just the thought of having to “will” yourself to play with strength and speed is disturbing for the Thunder front office.

Keys for improvement – as he said himself, he needs to switch on, focus and make that mental development. He should be working really hard on becoming all he can be, because if he gets that right, he will flourish. If he doesn’t, he may play himself out of a roster spot – talent or no talent.

Overall Grade: C+

It is hard to give Jones anything higher than this because we just haven’t seen enough of him and we haven’t seen the best of him. The talent is there, but many talented players have faltered at the pro level and have never panned out. If Jones wants to avoid a similar fate, then this off-season is the biggest of his life to date. If he works hard, adds some elements to his game and revises others- he will be a solid bench player. If he is able to get his mind right and really begin to take control of his athleticism and develop a “killer instinct” then he has a key spot in the rotation. The Thunder need a player like Jones and they need him now.

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