The 28th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Perry Jones III is now entering his 3rd season with the Thunder. His shooting percentage improved 6.5% (39.4% to 45.9%) between his 1st and 2nd seasons, as he did so playing 34 more games and 485 more minutes. He will be looking to gain even more floor time by the 2015-2016 season, as Kendrick Perkins will most likely be with another team, and Nick Collison will ride into retirement by that time. He may even gain a bit more floor time this upcoming season as well, depending on how badly he’s needed.
Jones started in 4 of the 5 Summer League contests, so he logged significant minutes in each of them. So did Jones look as though he was continuing to progress during his time on the floor in Orlando? Let’s crunch the numbers, and figure out the answer to this question.
Grizzlies: In 31:07, he led the Thunder in scoring with 15 points off of a highly impressive 5-for-7 (71.4%) shooting performance that including hitting both attempts from downtown (100%). He also dropped 3-of-4 (75%) free throws and added an assist. Defensively, he added 6 rebounds, a steal, and a block.
76ers: In 28:09, he slumped with 9 points off of 3-for-11 (27.3%) shooting, including 2-for-8 (25%) from beyond the arc. He slumped at the free throw line as well, going 1-for-3 (33.3%). He did manage 4 more rebounds (2 off., 2 def.), and another block. Although after a flawless performance against the Grizzlies, he logged 2 personal fouls and 2 turnovers in this one.
Nets: He did not play, as he was one of five players given the day off.
Pacers: In 21:42, he scored a dismal 5 points off of 2-for-9 (22.2%) shooting, including 1-for-3 (33.3%) from 3-point range. He did log 3 defensive rebounds, 2 steals, and another block, but his assist-to-turnover ratio was abysmal (1 assist to 4 turnovers). At least he kept his personal fouls to a minimum, logging only 1 total.
Heat: This was the second game where, in 27:32, he led the Thunder in scoring with 20 points off of a much better 7-for-11 (63.6%) shooting performance that included 4-of-6 (66.7%) from long range. He also drilled both foul shots (100%), as he racked up 8 rebounds (1 off., 7 def.) and blocked a shot in his 4th straight contest. He wasn’t perfect, however, as he finished with 3 personal fouls and 3 turnovers as well.
Totals: In 108 minutes and 30 seconds, or roughly just over 27 minutes per game, his per-game averages are as follows: 12.3 points off of 44.7% shooting, including 47.4% from 3-point range, 66.7% free throw shooter (which was his average percentage in both of his NBA seasons to date), 0.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds (.8 off., 4.5 def.), 1 block, 0.8 steals, 1.5 personal fouls, and 2.3 turnovers.
At the end of the day, Jones comes across to me like the Thunder’s version of a “mystery meal”, because you never know quite what he’s going to give you on a game-to-game basis. The Orlando Summer League was a perfect example of that. He was practically the MVP of the bookend games for the Thunder, but slumped quite badly during the midpoints of the schedule. It was nice to see him pull off a double-digit scoring average for the entirety of his time in Orlando, but you can see his ineffectiveness in the games where he’s not shooting well. Although he’s been a 66.7% free throw shooter throughout the entirety of his NBA career to this point, and I don’t really ever see that changing with his 6’11” height.
Despite his 6’11” height, his 235 lb. frame makes it nearly impossible for Jones to move bodies in the low post. That’s why he has developed his long range shot over time. Notice how his 3-point percentage turned out better than his overall shooting percentage? That’s not coincidence. Jones has a hard time finding space to shoot on the interior, and he’s not going to outmuscle anyone down low. He knows he’s going to have to do his damage in a different way. That’s why he has put so much time into his 3-point shooting stroke. If the opposing team is dumb enough to leave him wide open on the perimeter, he will make them pay for their unwise decision.
Although he doesn’t have the weight to move bodies down low, his sleek frame, combined with his sizable length gives him the necessary speed to compete for rebounds right along with the big boys, as well as churn out the backside block every so often. His lack of weight is going to make it hard for him to compete with guys like Serge Ibaka, Mitch McGary, and Nick Collison for playing time at the 4 spot. And with Durant at the 3, there just isn’t very much floor time available to anyone else at that spot. Jones still has a spot on this roster though, as he will most likely be asked to man the 4 position when the Thunder decide to go “small ball” for the extra speed.
I don’t see him ever working his way to a starting spot on anyone’s roster, but he could turn into a very nice role player for the Thunder. He just has to keep putting in the work. His level of passion for the game will dictate how far he goes in his NBA career. The question Jones needs to answer, and maybe even ask himself at this stage of his career is, “Just how bad do you want this, kid?” Because, whether he likes it or not, no one else can answer that question for him.