DraftExpress | ESPN | NBADraft | Stats | Wiki
Point Guard | 6’2 | 185 | Duke
Projected: Late 1st round
Best Case: Mark Jackson
Most Likely: Luke Ridnour
Worst Case: Nolan Smith
Tyus Jones has long had the clubhouse lead for my personal Blazers backup point guard of the future stakes. I liked his offensive game at Duke enough that I excused some of his defensive shortcomings, which is a rarity for me. His efficiency, low usage rate and pass first mentality strike me as ideal reserve point guard qualities and I think these will hold him in good stead wherever he is drafted.
Jones efficiency despite a pedestrian 42% mark from the field is explained by his shot selection and play style. Three of his eight shots a game came from beyond the arc and he hit these at a decent clip but it was his free throw shooting that really separated him from other ~40% shooters. Getting to the line over four times a game and converting at a rate of 89% helped Jones to a better than average 58 TS%. Combine that with a pure point rating that trails only Jerian Grant among likely-to-be-drafted point guards in this class and the totality of Jones’ offensive utility becomes clear. The fact that a lot of his best moments came out of pick and roll situations in high pressure moments should only serve to enhance his attractiveness to NBA franchises.
After reading the above, seeing the Nolan Smith worst case should confuse any and all Blazers fans, but it is intended less as a stylistic comparison and more about how college role players adapt to the league. Smith was known as a consummate team mate at Duke, often playing a deferential role to more talented peers. Jones is known the same way – playing a big part in the success of Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow and then stepping up whenever necessary. Nolan managed to transfer none of his college role-playing ability to the NBA, which worries me a little whenever I tout Jones as a low risk pick (exactly how Smith was described at his draft). Now, Smith ended up being a tweener who lacked of talent to stick in the league. I don’t think those issues apply to Jones so I still feel he’s a low risk of busting, but there is always that chance.
Even with my belief in his offensive talents transitioning to the NBA intact, Jones’ defensive issues have me starting to reconsider his fit with the Blazers. Without the quickness, length, height or instincts of typical good point guard defenders, below average output on that end is probably the best you could hope for in his case. With Dame and CJ having their own troubles defensively, adding Jones to the mix feels like it might be inviting trouble. I’d still love to have Jones in the fold, but these questions over fit have made me reconsider my favouritism for him over other options. Delon Wright is your new clubhouse leader.