If you don't know much about Baylor's Perry Jones, you need to start paying attention. He's quite the enigma in a draft class loaded with talent and future all-stars, a high-risk high-reward player who, in my opinion, has the potential to be a top-three level talent. At 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, he not only possesses the size and athleticism to match-up with the 3, 4, and even 5 spot in the NBA, but also has the ball-handling and court awareness of a guard.
With all these positives, what makes him such a gamble? It's a familiar story, one we've heard about numerous athletes who possess innate talent and ability- his lack of assertiveness, toughness and consistency has made scouts and GMs across the league question his immense potential. Plus, his "unselfishness" has been termed a weakness, but that narrative is far too cliche, and I'm sure that aspect of his game will actually make him even more special in years to come.
In his two years at Baylor, his numbers never really stood out to anyone: 13.7 points per game as a freshman, 13.5 as a sophomore; 7.2 rebounds per game as a freshman, 7.6 as a sophomore. There's no way to sugar-court this: he was more of a disappointment than anything in his sophomore year. He was the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year who finished on the All Big-12 third team, too often disappearing in Baylor's biggest games.
Who's to blame for his lack of production? I rarely point the finger at the coaching staff, but much of it has to go on Baylor's Coach Scott Drew for not utilizing his stars appropriately. Rather than run his offense through All-Americans like Jones or Quincy Miller, he let PG Pierre Jackson dominate the ball much of the season. The team lacked a real distributor, and I think that had adverse effects on a player like Jones.
With this level of all-around offensive game, all motivation tends to go out the door when your point guard isn't getting the ball to the right players at the right time. Additionally, the team often employed a zone defense, rather than take advantage of its athletic, quick wing players.
In the mock draft I did for Metta Chronicles, I noted that the Warriors should take Jones at the No. 7 pick (and Andrew Nicholson at No. 30). In my opinion, Perry Jones is the most talented NBA prospect in this year’s NBA draft, and possesses the upside to be the best player in this year’s draft if he's developed properly by the right coach and team.
He's got a great all-around game on the offensive side, and because he's both very unselfish and a good decision maker, his game reminds me a lot of Lamar Odom's. And he might not be the shooter Rashard Lewis was, but their body-types are quite similar. He has a similar skill set, and playing under a coach like Mark Jackson will help him emerge from this so-called passive nature.
A front-court of Andrew Bogut, David Lee, and Perry Jones would be extremely long, and with ball handlers like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson filling out the starting line-up, this starting five would definitely cause some match-up problems for the opposition. Jones will have the opportunity early on to not focus on scoring, but make his impact in other ways, whether it be on defense, transition, or rebounding.
Over time though, he will develop more confidence in his all-around abilities and be able to maximize this potential. He'll also give the Warriors some options, with the ability to play the three and four, and if they want to go "small", Don Nelson style, play the five at times.
Jones is in a rare class of players we like to call the "point-forward". His potential is off the charts. I hope the Warriors pick him at No. 7. They have a nice, young backcourt and have developed a solid frontcourt with Bogut and Lee. The team wouldn't rely on Jones for anything but his energy and athleticism early on, and as a result, it is the perfect fit for him.
There's little pressure, lots of room to grow and learn, and plenty of playing time for the kid. I'm sure he'll develop into a special player, someone we're raving about a few years down the road.
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