My latest at ESPN hit the press yesterday:
One of the more entertaining spectacles from each Rockets game involves Jones corralling the rebound and leading the break on his own. In these moments, Houston’s guards stroll the other way, confident Jones will finish the play. And with a surprisingly accurate shooting stroke, Jones can spread the floor and give Houston’s stars the space they need to operate inside. He is always moving, either in transition or in the half court, finishing the passes off cuts to the rim that Asik couldn’t handle.
Jones’ numbers have come down to earth a bit, in recent games, as was to be expected. But make no mistake, his replacement of Omer Asik in the starting lineup has been the catalyst to the Rockets’ offensive surge.
Right now, I think the 21-year-old still has a very long way to go. In fact, it scares me heading into the postseason with Jones as our second best big man. I don’t know if he’s shown anything to prove that he can rotate consistently and defend the paint. And even in the new era, you can’t expect to win in the second season without strong interior defense.
Still, the emergence of Jones has had its effects. Had he not shown he could fill the role for the time being, Daryl Morey might have been more desperate to get a deal done, opting to include a draft pick to acquire the ‘4’ of his choice. Instead, Morey stood firm by his stance and some of that has to be attributed to Jones – the sophomore’s play has allowed him to buy some more time.