Simply put, 6’11” 220 lb Baylor forward Perry Jones oozes potential. Potential is an ambiguous word to use, but it precisely characterizes Perry Jones’ NCAA career thus far as he prepares to enter the 2012 NBA draft. In fact, if the draft were strictly defined by potential and upside, Jones will be the first pick of every mock draft NBA experts generate.
Obviously, the NBA draft is not all about upside and potential. However, if you’re an NBA team (especially a small-market team) looking to make hard-hitting ticket sales, a spike in your merchandise sales and some effective team marketing hypes, Jones is the player you want.
The 101 on Jones
A combination of sheer athleticism and handling skills has an alarm going off in any scout’s head. Jones is perhaps the most explosive players in the NCAA this year. He’s somewhat of an effective post scorer due to his lethal first step and ball handling abilities—most power forwards cannot keep contact with him.
Jones has the “potential” to master pick-and-roll situations, where his soft touches and aggressive drives to the basket come into full effect. In addition, Jones possesses the necessary tools to become a post-up player, especially with his footwork, touch and thin frame.
Jones has also displayed a solid mid-range game that should translate well into the NBA world. It needs some fine tuning, but the jump shot fundamentals are present, which is always a must-have entering the professional game. Alley oops might be his favorite play, but his jump shot, pick-and-rolls and shooting off the dribble should become mainstays of his offensive repertoire as he enters the 2011-2012 NCAA campaign.
The defensive side, however, is a whole different narrative with Jones. At minimum, coaches would expect a player with his size, athleticism and leaping ability to fill the stat sheet with rebounds and blocks. But that’s exactly where the problem arises. Jones only managed to average 7.2 RPG, 0.9 BPG and 0.5 SPG. With his capabilities, no less than 13 RPG and 1.5 BPG should be acceptable.
Perhaps one of the main contributing factors to Jones’ aforementioned numbers is his strength. Physically, NBA power forwards are a force to be reckoned with in the NBA, let alone the NCAA. The 6'11" forward struggles for position underneath the basket, dealing with opposing power forwards.
Jones will face some heavy-duty NCAA power forwards, and perhaps should look to make the transition early to the small forward spot. His length and frame are built for the small forward position and will become a nightmare matchup for opposing coaches.
Jones, however, lacks awareness and energy, particularly on the defensive end. That sense of urgency is vividly absent in his game. Opponents drive fairly easily to the basket, without much resistance from Jones. He is often outworked and loses focus on defensive rotations and weak-side help. According to many different scouting websites, Jones tends to shy away from contact as well, which would then explain his alarming blocks per game stats.
Maybe his freshman year at Baylor was a “transition” year. He may break out in the 2011-2011 NCAA season and grab scouts’ attention, particularly after a summer of evaluating his game. He certainly has the most upside of any player in the nation and should be able to only get better in this upcoming season.
Anthony Randolph Comparison
Jones may become the next Anthony Randolph, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 22-year-old forward. It’s not one of the best comparisons, but he clearly resembles Randolph in a number of facets. In his only year at LSU, Randolph averaged 8.5 RPG and 2.3 BPG. The rebounding numbers, compared to Jones, are not that far of, but the blocks per game are.
Much like Jones, Randolph can be marketed for his potential and athleticism alone, but not for anything else. It’s more of a curse than a blessing, however. Randolph possesses unlimited fire to his game, but with little direction. His athleticism, frame and errors are almost identical to Jones'.
In fact, one of the most glaring similarities are their positions. In a perfect world, both would play the small forward position under any coach. Both, however, are forced to play the power forward position due to lack of small forward qualities.
Making It in the NBA
But Randolph, lockout notwithstanding, is entering his third year in the NBA. Consequently, the advantage lies in Jones’ favor. The 20-year-old Jones has all the capabilities to become a future All-Star. It has become a cliché of sorts to say that, but it certainly is applicable to Jones.
The 6’11” forward needs to hit the weight room and ignore the false praise he receives of being “wiry strong.” Jones needs to raise his activity and aggressiveness levels tremendously–NBA scouts might have some negative reports on that fact alone.
Furthermore, his awareness has to improve on the defensive end, which includes grabbing more rebounds and making opponents think twice about entering the paint without getting their shot blocked.
The 2011-2012 NCAA season should be Perry Jones’ year.
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