We've got ourselves a new player in Perry Jones III and I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to our favorite Thunder blog (Welcome to Loud City) to get a better feel for him. So here's a quick Q&A with J.A. Sherman.
1. Help me get caught up on Perry Jones III please. The last time I really paid attention to him was when I wanted the Celtics to pick him instead of Fab Melo. Fab is out of the league now but PJIII hasn't exactly lit the world on fire either. Was it injuries, lack of opportunity, lack of work ethic, lack of "b-ball IQ," or some combination of the above?
When the Thunder drafted Jones 3 seasons ago at #28, he was the classic falling draftee on account of 1) lingering injuries (knee) and 2) motivational attitude. Everyone agreed that his physical traits were off the charts and that there might have been justification to even take him in the lottery. It's always fun to watch those conversations, because in the end, the reasons why he fell so far were valid. He did the D-League thing for a season and in the past two, struggled to find consistent rotation minutes. This was in part due to his general laid back attitude, but also the fact that former Thunder coach Scott Brooks was notorious for having a short leash with young bench players.
Jones got his biggest opportunity at the beginning of this past ill-fated Thunder season when it felt like the entire OKC roster was injured and they were relying on Sebastian Telfair nightly to keep the ship afloat. You read that right. Jones responded really well. Since nobody else could really create a shot, Jones stepped up and had a number of strong games, including a 32 point outburst against the Clippers. Thunder fans finally had reason to get excited about PJIII. Sadly, the run ended when Jones hurt his foot. He always seems to be getting injured in some way or another, which is weird because he rarely actually played.
Aside from the injury fears, here is my most honest assessment of Jones, the player. He doesn't understand how much more difficult the pro game is as compared to the college game, and he doesn't know this despite a) actually being in the NBA; and b) playing along side practice maniacs like Durant and Westbrook. In the words of the late, great Ralph Wiley, "The question in the NBA, and in life, isn't whether or not you can shoot. The question is, can you get your shot?"
As such, Jones doesn't really seem to know how hard it is to be a consistent producer. He carries himself with the air of a guy who is a 5-tool player who can let the game come to him. The problem is, Jones has never clearly even developed himself into a 1-tool player, which is what you need to be at the very least when you come off the bench. When you're a bench guy expecting only 12-15 minutes a night, you have to have at least one thing that you do well, and then you go do that thing for 10 minutes with the hopes of maybe getting the chance to do another thing, which maybe gets you another 3 minutes next night, where the coach hopes you do that one extra thing again, and on and on.
And that is perhaps the biggest problem to me. I don't know what Jones actually does well.
2. You describe him as Jeff Green-lite, and you should know having watched both players come up through OKC. I know he's athletic, but can he shoot? If he's like Green, that means he's streaky. Are we going to be perpetually teased by his talent?
Yes, Jeff Green comes to mind when I think about Jones, but even less-so. You've had the Jeff Green experience, where you see this long, athletic guy seem to be able to shift into DOMINATION mode for brief stints, and then disappear for 2-3 games. Or in the alternative, give you a great shooting performance, but then realize the rest of his box score is a bunch of zeroes.
That's probably Jones' upside. I personally believe Green is always going to be an inconsistent starter but could be special leading a 2nd unit, kind of the way he did in Memphis this past year. If you give him the reins on a 2nd unit that is playing against another 2nd unit, he knows how to get things done. The same could be true for Jones; we don't know yet though, because he was never given a high level of responsibility until Brooks absolutely had to. And then when the rest of the talent around Jones got healthy, he disappeared once again.
I think that Boston's best course of action with Jones is to figure out at least one thing that he can do well on a nightly basis. I personally think it could be offensive rebounding and catching lobs, two things that simply depend on athletic ability and some assertiveness, which are made even easier when you're trying to do it against 2nd units. Just find something for Jones to know that he can succeed at consistently, and then build off of it from there. Jones needs to experience what it feels like to have success as a bench player, because that's what he's likely going to be for the next 2-3 seasons.
3. I hear PJIII has mad pre-game handshake game. Anything else I should know about him?
Where can I get a big bean bag— Perry Jones III (@Perry_Jones1) August 17, 2014
Thanks J.A. Sherman for your help! Check out our friends at Welcome to Loud City for all your Thunder questions.