Josh Huestis: Kevin Durant’s Perfect Backup


When Perry Jones was still on the Oklahoma City Thunder, former head coach Scott Brooks would describe Jones’ role as a “utility defender.” What Brooks meant by this was that he felt Jones was a good enough and versatile enough defender that he could guard anyone from LeBron James to Chris Paul. However, as much as Brooks would have liked to believe that was true, it was not in any way the case. 

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For his career, Jones has been a minus-1 on the defensive end per 100 possessions. No matter what Brooks says, it doesn’t make any sense to label a player as a utility defender if they aren’t even an average defender.

In today’s NBA, it is becoming very common to automatically call players good defenders if they have freakish athleticism. Jones, for all intents and purposes, should be an excellent defender with his 6′ 11″, 235 pound frame.

Josh Huestis, on the other hand, is going to be a perfect fit for the role Brooks thought Jones could fill.

Huestis has very similar size to Jones at 6′ 7”, 230 pounds but it is his wingspan and tenacity that make him the excellent defender that he is. He has an incredible 7′ 1” wingspan that allows him to be an elite shot blocker at his position. In fact, Huestis is actually Stanford’s all-time leading shot blocker with 190 total blocks in his four years there.

While I don’t mean to make this a piece that is completely about comparing Jones and Huestis, the traits that the latter has are the traits that would likely have made Jones a success in OKC.

Coming out of Baylor, Jones’ biggest criticism was his motor. In a scouting report on Jones done by Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay, this is highlighted perfectly. One line that stands out in Kay’s  report on Jones, is that “His upside is absolutely incredible, but he lacks the motor that the truly elite players possess.”

The motor that Jones always seemed to lack may have been given to Huestis because throughout his college career, he never showed that he didn’t want to lock down the man in front of him.

Perry Jones’ (right) lack of a tenacity and a motor kept him from being the player OKC wanted him to be.

Surely enough, Huestis’ defensive tenacity not only made him attractive to NBA teams during the draft a year ago, it also got him a little limelight when he limited future number one overall pick Andrew Wiggins to only 4 points in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Huestis’ shutdown defense was a huge factor in what led to Stanford ultimately pulling a huge upset on the juggernaut Kansas Jayhawks.

When the Thunder selected Huestis in last year’s draft, many fans asking the question: How is this guy any different than Andre Roberson? To many, there isn’t much of a difference, but to me Huestis holds a lot more upside than Roberson does.

Both of them are probably equally elite defenders, although Huestis hasn’t completely proven that yet. However, Huestis seems to have a more nuanced offensive game than Roberson which bodes well for his improvement on that end.

The thing about Roberson is not only is he a bad shooter but his shooting form looks almost completely broken. While Huestis might not be a great shooter, his form doesn’t look like it will be as difficult to improve as Roberson’s.

Huestis having an average shot and decent offensive game makes him the perfect player to spell megastar Kevin Durant. Everyone knows that he will come in with maximum effort and absolutely hound whoever he is guarding. If he comes in and knocks down a few shots that will just be an added bonus.

Huestis could eventually help make this Thunder defense one of the best in the league if he can hone his offensive game enough to push his way to some significant playing time. Until then, Huestis will continue to be groomed by a coaching staff excellent at developing young players until he is ready to be Durant’s true backup.

Next: Could Michael Jordan Beat Kevin Durant 1-on-1?