Now, after questions surfaced regarding Jones' health caused his stock to plummet in the 2012 draft, the 6'11", 235-pounder may have lost some money in the short term, but it's very possible that Jones will make up for it by adding some jewelry to his trophy case.
Jones, who averaged 14 points and almost eight rebounds a game last year for the Baylor Bears, was predicted by many to be at the very least a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA draft.
However, after reports circulated that Jones had issues with the meniscus in one of his knees, the talented youngster's draft stock free-fell all the way to 28th overall, where he was selected by the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder.
According to an Associated Press report published by the Washington Post, Thunder general manager Sam Presti was fully aware of the questions surrounding Jones' knee, stating that problems "existed even before Jones played the last two seasons at Baylor and it shouldn’t keep him out next season, or even during summer league."
In fact, Presti went so far as to mention Jones' straight-line speed as one of the strengths of the 21-year-old's game, an asset that should come in very handy on a Thunder squad that likes to get up and down the court in a hurry.
For his part Jones seems to have taken his draft-day slide in stride, finding a silver lining where others might grouse about having been overlooked.
However, as Jones told the AP, that doesn't mean that he won't use his drop as motivation, although he's overjoyed that it ended where it did:
“Everybody knows that I wasn’t supposed to slide as far as I did but, to be honest, I’m happy I did. This is a great organization. I mean, it’s the perfect spot,” Jones said after holding up his new No. 3 jersey, signifying the suffix on his name.
“It surprised me because I didn’t think I’d be here in a million years,” Jones said. “Actually on draft night, when the pick came up for them, I was thinking to myself, ‘Well, they don’t need me, so they definitely won’t pick me.’”
Pick him they did, although it's unsure exactly what role Jones will fill with the Thunder in the early going.
The team would appear to be pretty set at small forward with—oh, what's his name—that Durant kid.
Kevin, I think.
However, Jones could challenge Serge Ibaka for significant minutes early at the power-forward spot, especially if/when the team decides to go with a more up-tempo lineup against opponents that feature a lot of quickness.
Granted, there will be growing pains (as there almost always are with rookies), Jones will need to bulk up some at the professional level and there may well come a day when his knee will need to be surgically repaired.
With that said, that day hasn't arrived yet, and anytime that a team that just made a trip to the NBA Finals gets a player who not too long ago was considered a potential No. 1 pick, that team will all but surely take it's chances, as the rest of the NBA mutters obscenities in the background.
The rich just got richer out west.