Anthony Davis’ sensational freshman season often made Terrence Jones a forgotten man at Kentucky this year, but not by NBA scouts. If (as is expected) Jones enters this June’s draft, the 6’9” power forward will be one of many Wildcats with a serious shot at becoming a lottery pick.
After a quiet sophomore campaign for the national champs, it’s obvious that Jones isn’t about to become the next Blake Griffin or Kevin Garnett. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the two-time All-SEC pick make an NBA All-Star team or two before his pro career is done.
Herein, a look at five NBA forwards who might serve as a preview of Jones’ performance at the next level.
Like Antawn Jamison, Jones is a fleet-footed power forward who’s particularly effective when his team can get out and run in transition on a regular basis.
The two are also valuable jump-shooters in the half-court, although Jamison is a serious three-point threat, while Jones (even at the college distance) is decidedly not.
Jones is also a tougher defender than Jamison, who has never mustered as much intensity at that end of the floor.
That same physicality will make the soon-to-be rookie a more consistent rebounder than Jamison, who’s spent much of his career being alternately effective and absent on the glass.
A rare NBA power forward whose speed and quickness exceed even Jones’, Raptor James Johnson shares another distinction with the Wildcat sophomore.
Johnson is blocking 1.4 shots a game this season, making him one of the few 6’9” players who can match Jones’ talents in that department.
Johnson is a very erratic shot, and it would be shocking if Jones doesn’t prove a more reliable offensive option (in both the mid-range game and the low post).
Jones also hasn’t shown much indication of sharing the weakness that helped end Johnson’s stay with the Bulls: a persistent inability to stay out of foul trouble.
Although Jones fought through a protracted shooting slump last season, he still showed that on the whole, he can be effective while deferring to bigger stars around him.
Like Jeff Green (a former Oklahoma City teammate of Kevin Durant’s), Jones is able to get his points without having plays run for him, either knocking down shots in the flow of the offense or putting back offensive rebounds.
Jones and Green also share a physical approach to defense, although Jones’ shot-blocking is well above Green’s level. The fact that Jones weighs nearly 20 lbs more than Green also helps the Kentucky standout exert greater control on the boards.
If Kentucky hadn’t had so much talent around Jones, he might’ve put up individual numbers to rival the ones David West recorded at Xavier.
West, who won AP National Player of the Year honors as a Musketeer senior, is a more polished post scorer than Jones, but both have similar jump-shooting ability.
West’s collegiate rebounding prowess hasn’t translated to the next level, but Jones (who has 10 lbs on the Pacers forward) may have better luck in that department.
West also isn’t a notably effective defender, another area where Jones gets the better of the comparison.
Jones, whose scoring average dipped to 12.5 points a game last season, isn’t likely to be a primary scoring option at the NBA level. Perhaps the ideal role model, then, is a top-tier complementary player such as two-time All-Star Carlos Boozer.
The two forwards are built almost identically (both 6’9”, with Boozer listed at six lbs over Jones’ 252) and both are skilled jump-shooters, though Jones probably has a bit more range.
Jones isn’t yet as effective as a back-to-the-basket option, but will start with the immediate advantage of being a viable shot-blocker (1.8 per game last season), a skill not in Boozer’s repertoire.