RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Perry Jones IIIPosted by dnspewak on June 20th, 2012
The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards, so for the next week or two we’ll present you with players who are projected near the end of the first round, and we’ll work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Perry Jones III
Height/Weight: 6’11”, 235 lbs.
NBA Position: Power Forward
Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round
Overview: There has been no greater enigma in college basketball than Perry Jones III during the past two seasons. When he first arrived at Baylor, it seemed implausible he would stay for more than just one year. By all accounts, he was supposed to be the next Kevin Durant or Michael Beasley in the Big 12, a guy who lights up the league for five months and then bolts for the pros. That type of stardom never materialized for him as a freshman, though, and Jones returned to Waco and played frustratingly modest for a second straight season in 2011-12. Once considered an obvious top five NBA Draft selection, scouts continued to criticized Jones for not asserting himself physically and not playing “big” enough. He shined at times during the 2011-12 season, but he also faltered in match-ups against Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Missouri’s Ricardo Ratliffe and other elite big men like Kevin Jones (West Virginia) and Arnett Moultrie (Missisippi State). It was a tale of inconsistency all season long. He lit up for Kentucky for 17 points in the Elite Eight but scored only two against South Dakota State in the second round; he embarrassed Kansas State with 31 points in the Big 12 quarterfinals but fouled out with four points in 22 minutes against the Wildcats in February. Overall, Jones had a successful season and two-year college career, but outside expectations are insanely high for this young man. So much that it may have been impossible for Jones to ever reach his full “potential” in college.
Will Translate to the NBA: Jones may not play like a traditional bruising forward, but he has a unique skill set for a 6’11” power forward. Slow-footed forwards have difficulty guarding him because he is so quick and has the ball-handling skills of a guard. Jones is smooth around the basket and can beat defenders from anywhere: around the rim, from 15-feet, or from beyond the arc. At his best, Jones can control a game when his teammates find him and feed him the basketball. Take that KSU game in the Big 12 tournament, for example. In the first half, Baylor’s guards found Jones on almost every single possession, and he nearly had a double-double by halftime. He finished with 31 points and had 21 of those before the break, shredding the KSU defense so harshly it resulted in another Frank Martin meltdown and very public arguments between several Wildcat players. It was perhaps the most confident Jones ever looked in a Baylor uniform, and it’s the kind of game that makes NBA scouts salivate. He has a long, athletic frame, arms tailor-made for playing post defense, and the agility of an NBA All-Star. Jones is the perfect package of an elite basketball player in its rawest form.
Needs Work: You hear it all the time. Perry Jones is “soft,” right? That might not be the right word. It insinuates that Jones is weak and not willing to do the work to become an NBA player. It’s a little unfair. Jones did not have a poor college career by any means. In fact, averaging double-figures and more than seven rebounds a game for a team that made the Elite Eight last season is hardly the mark of a “soft” player. The word we’re looking for is “underachieving.” For a player with such physical gifts, Jones didn’t utilize them often enough in college. He may not have been soft, but he didn’t play like a forward should at the Big 12 level. He would disappear in some games, and superior opponents would sometimes appear to outwork him on the floor. Jones just hasn’t quite blossomed yet, but there are not signs of any character issues. In fact, Jason King’s article for ESPN cleared up a lot of perceptions about Jones. He will certainly need to learn how to play bigger and tougher in the NBA. But soft? That might be a tad harsh, and Jones might be a victim of his own talent and expectations.
Comparison Players: Perry Jones is a unique prospect, as he’s nearly seven feet tall but has guard skills and explosive athleticism. His skill set is so intriguing because it is one of the rarer combinations in the league. The best comp is someone like a taller Rudy Gay, if and only if Jones becomes more aggressive and produces at a more consistent level in the NBA. But he shares some of the same skills as Gay, capable of breaking down bigger players on the perimeter but also displaying post moves to explode near the rim.
Best Case Scenario: There’s a reason why Jones was considered #1-pick caliber when coming out of high school. His combination of skills and athleticism is tantalizing, and the upside is All-Star level. If he becomes meaner in the post to improve his rebound rate and aggressiveness in the paint, we can start thinking about that tremendous upside. Jones displays an outside shooting touch, solid one-on-one moves, and elite physical tools on defense, but it’s the motor and physicality that’s most lacking at this stage in his career. Should he develop the confidence to contribute down low, Jones can become a versatile, All-Star level forward in the league.
Best NBA Fit: The joke with Jones used to be that he’ll get an NBA general manager fired some day. But that was when he still had top five pick potential and was not producing. Now he’s just a fringe lottery pick and starting to display stronger signs of working hard, and the narrative is changing to where he could become a steal outside of the top 10. In order to do so, he must land on a team willing to push him each day as well as best utilize his versatile skill set on the floor. He was not a great fit at Baylor, but NBA teams like the Phoenix Suns (#13), Portland Trail Blazers (#11), and Dallas Mavericks (#17) should give him strong opportunities to succeed, all proven franchises in terms of player development that also have holes at the ‘three’ or ‘four’ position long term.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Jones is said to be one of the players that could slide a ways on draft night. He’s an intriguing player but concerns about his intensity and position have him potentially sliding right out of the lottery and as far as early 20s.”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Danny Spewak and Evan Jacoby.