Terrence Jones and perception

Terrence Jones is now averaging 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game on the young season, shooting 53% from the floor and 48% on 3′s.  Per 36 minutes, these numbers come out to 15.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks.  The 21-year-old has thus far posted a PER of 19.1 (15 can be understood as the ‘average’ NBA player) while his team has posted a whopping 119 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.  As a starter, Jones has averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds and his team has gone 8-2.  By the testimony of most interested observers, Jones’ insertion into the starting lineup (in place of center Omer Asik) has been the catalyst for Houston’s sudden turnaround after a disappointing early start.

As we know, Jones fell to the Rockets at #18 in the 2012 NBA Draft.  I decided to take a trip through the archives to cobble together the story on a guy who most felt would go much higher had he come out a season before.

Jones was rated the 10th ranked prospect coming out of high school in 2010.  (Interesting to note Harrison Barnes ahead of Kyrie Irving.)

This December 2010 DraftExpress profile writes of Jones: “With his physical tools, NBA-ready body, and strong and growing skill set, Jones has a high ceiling and should stay put firmly in the early-to-mid lottery if he can continue this play all season.”

This December 2010 piece from Washington Wizards TrueHoop Network affiliate Bullets Forever writes: “Most mock drafts have Terrence Jones listed anywhere from pick 3 to 8 in the first round. I have him as #1.”  The author goes on to make his case for why Jones will be the best player in the upcoming draft.

Jones then decides to return to Kentucky for his sophomore year, and that’s when the wheels fall off.

 

From an April 2011 DraftExpress profile on Jones: ”early season success surpassed the expectations of most. The lefty looked dominant at times playing as a face-up power forward, displaying a lethal combination of skill creating his own shot and making shots from the perimeter, along with aggressiveness and intensity attacking inside the paint and crashing the boards.”…”His early season success drew plenty of attention from NBA decision-makers, with his name often being mentioned with some of the top prospects in the NCAA. As the season went on, however, Jones lost some momentum, as his shot wasn’t falling, his role in Kentucky’s offense decreasing, and his confidence appearing to take a hit.”…”Some early evidence of this was seen in Calipari’s profanity-laced tirade during the Alabama game on January 18th, where he called Jones, amongst other things, selfish. Calipari later explained that Jones sometimes has a tendency to play soft and bail out his defender by settling for 3-pointers as opposed to putting pressure on his man and attacking the basket.”…”The more likely role for him at the NBA level, at least at this stage in his career with his current body and skill set, would be to play as more of a face-up four man, similar to his role at Kentucky. This would suit teams looking to get out and run a bit more, and would help with spacing in the half-court. Jones could continue to exploit his quickness advantage on the offensive end and utilize his ability to make plays of the dribble, attacking the basket, or using a dribble or two and pulling up for jumpers.”

(Lo and behold, that last bit is dead-on foreshadowing of Jones’ fit in the Rockets offense.)

April 2012: “An incredibly versatile and talented player with clear-cut NBA tools, Jones was an elite player in the college game when he was zoned in, but the difficulties he has had making his presence felt on a consistent basis, staying focused for entire games, and not pouting when things don’t go his way remain disconcerting.”…”Kept on an incredibly short leash and challenged publicly on a few occasions by John Calipari, who had no qualms pulling Jones early and often for a defensive lapse or not boxing out, Jones struggled with his body language at times early in the season, and seemed entirely content to simply blend in for long stretches as the season went on.”…”Measured at 6’9 with a 7’2 wingspan and powerful 245-pound frame that he worked hard to add additional muscle to last summer, Jones has everything you look for in a NBA forward physically, even if he could be considered a tad undersized for the power forward position. He runs the floor like a small forward, plays above the rim in traffic, makes fluid moves off the dribble, and has the package of tools to defend multiple positions at the NBA level.”…”A likely lottery pick, Jones’s stock could rise if he can convince NBA scouts he’s moved past the issues that have plagued him in the past.”

From viewing this timeline, one can understand not only why Jones has flourished thus far with the Rockets, but also why he languished on the bench for so much of his rookie season despite showing early signs of physical readiness.  His is the story of an uber-talented prospect with skillset and prototypical size and athleticism but severe issues with effort and concentration.

One of my pet topics is perception and the role of pedigree in polluting future forecasts.  Take Jeremy Lin for instance.  A guy with his size and quickness who has produced at the rate in which he has would be considered much more valuable than he is under normal circumstances.  But because he was undrafted, most people view him as a fluke.  It’s interesting to apply this same thought exercise to Terrence Jones.  Let’s imagine he had come out in 2011, gone to the Rockets at #5, and was putting up the numbers right now that he is.  We’d almost surely be extrapolating that production out via age and maturation and projecting him to become a 20-10 All-Star type player by his mid 20′s.  Since we got him at 18, we’re still not really sure if he’s the longterm answer at the ’4.’

Is he the answer?  We’ll need more than ten games to determine that, especially as teams continue to adjust their game plans towards his tendencies.  You can rest assured, however, that if Jones keeps up his current rate of production, the Rockets won’t be targeting a power forward in an Omer Asik trade.

What’s the future for Jones?  He’s done his damage exactly how the scouting report predicted.  He’s spread the floor, facing up off the dribble, but also makes quick cuts to the hoop for easy baskets which he’s converted.  (I actually think this latter ability has gone unappreciated, especially when realizing that those same passes Jones is converting upon were being dropped by Omer Asik.)  Can he stay focused and committed?  Those were the issues that ruined his draft stock.

That 48% 3-point shooting will regress to the mean in due time.  But simply the threat of 3-point ability is what makes the Rockets’ offense work and gives Dwight Howard and James Harden room to operate.  Jones’ main task this season will be to just continue bringing the effort and focus.  It is far too often that Dwight Howard goes for a block and his man scores the offensive putback.  (This happens atleast once every game.)  As the next biggest Rocket, Jones has to do a better job boxing out in these situations.  He also must do a better job on defensive rotations where, at some points, he’s been horrendous.  I could say that this will be rectified with age but I’ve seen far too many talented big men flame out after failing to ever mature in this facet of the game.

Over the summer, I’d like to see Jones continue refining his face-up game, working on ways to beat his man off the dribble.  His quickness and ability to handle the ball will always put him at an advantage and as he gains confidence in himself, he’ll become more decisive with his moves.  Right now, Jones far too often looks unsure of what he wants to do when receiving the catch.

Still, the biggest area which will determine Jones’ future is his help defense and concentration.  Fans look at rebound numbers and blocks and think a big man is producing defensively.  In actuality, help defense is the most critical barometer.  Teams with title aspirations simply cannot overcome shoddy interior defense.  That’s one of the biggest reasons why so many young teams flame out.

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Total comments: 38
  • RudyT1995 says 9 months ago

    Asik is the better player. Just not for this team. TJones is the better fit to play alongside Howard.

  • Cooper says 9 months ago Jones is a better athlete for sure not necessarily a better basketball player. And obviously more important to our team as jones is the only starting pf and Howard does everything asik does but better.
  • marbony81110 says 9 months ago

    Well Jones is both. He is a better fit and a more talented basketball player.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago Obviously Jones is a better fit. But that's not what you said.
  • marbony81110 says 9 months ago

    Asik was a top 5 defensive player last year, but is untalented? I just don't understand the hate for Asik.

    Its not hate. It is just the fact that Terrence Jones is proving that he is a better player and fit with the starting unit. Asik would be great for the second unit, buthis significant offensive limitations make him a liability on that end. Teams leave him wide open and he never gets double teamed. Even as a starterlast yearhe just barely scored in the double digits.

    Dwight isn't a good post up player, but teams can't guard him one on one because he is strong and athletic. He brings more opportunities to the team that Jones takes advantage of. Asik doesn't have the skill or ability to do the same things as Jones. If Asik could consistently shoot a 10 footer he would be golden, but he can't.

  • Buckko says 9 months ago Lots of biases.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago Asik was a top 5 defensive player last year, but is untalented? I just don't understand the hate for Asik.
  • marbony81110 says 9 months ago

    "...Jones is supremely more talented..."

    I AGREE!!

  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago Jones is supremely more talented? Okay....
  • thejohnnygold says 9 months ago

    I feel like there is a disconnect between value and talent here.

    Now that Howard is here, Asik's value to the team has diminished which brings his overall talent more into question. When comparing him to Jones it is not even close--Jones is supremely more talented. He still has years of experience to gain before being fairly compared to Asik and odds are he winds up better on both ends of the court.

    I would trade Howard and Asik for Drummond and not think twice about it. The guy is already dominating and he is still getting better. He rebounds very well in traffic, finishes strong, has a decent hook shot, gets steals and blocks, can run the floor with or without the ball, and seems to be a humble person. There is nothing to not like. He's working on his free throws and that should work itself out as he has already shown marked improvement in just a couple of weeks.

    Having 2 Detroit players on my fantasy team I wind up watching a lot of their games. Drummond is the real deal. If anyone is getting shipped out of Detroit it's Josh Smith. They gambled on him and it is not working.

  • Steven says 9 months ago

    This made me think... Outside of the 5 (presumably Howard, Gasol, Hibbert, Chandler, Noah), and excluding Duncan... Would you take Drummond over Asik?

    All day everyday. Think Morey can pull this off?
  • Steven says 9 months ago

    Do I really have to comment that Asik is a better player than T Jones? I mean, seriously? I'm sure 9 out of 10 people would say Asik's the better player. Obviously T Jones offense is better, but the overall impact that each has on a game is worlds apart. If you truly believe that Jones is better than Asik, then there is no reason to discuss this further as there would be no common ground for us to reach.

    Jones is better then Asik. Not even close.
  • Buckko says 9 months ago I would have brook Lopez instead of chandler in top 5 centers.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago

    I definitely think Jones is a better overall player than Asik, especially offensively. Unless Asik actually catches (CATCHES) the ball at the basket it is unlikely that he would ever score. Asik is better defensively in the post because he rarely jumps to block a shot and is much bigger. The not jumping thing is good since it allows him to be in a better position to rebound. Jones just brings so much more to the table than Asik. If you can't see that, I have question whether or not you have been watching the games.


    Lol. I guess I'm in the minority here.
  • marbony81110 says 9 months ago

    This made me think... Outside of the 5 (presumably Howard, Gasol, Hibbert, Chandler, Noah), and excluding Duncan... Would you take Drummond over Asik?

    I would

  • marbony81110 says 9 months ago

    Do I really have to comment that Asik is a better player than T Jones? I mean, seriously? I'm sure 9 out of 10 people would say Asik's the better player. Obviously T Jones offense is better, but the overall impact that each has on a game is worlds apart. If you truly believe that Jones is better than Asik, then there is no reason to discuss this further as there would be no common ground for us to reach.

    I definitely think Jones is a better overall player than Asik, especially offensively. Unless Asik actually catches (CATCHES)the ball at the basket it is unlikely that he would ever score. Asik is better defensively in the post because he rarely jumps to block a shot and is much bigger. The not jumping thing is good since it allows him to be in a better position to rebound. Jones just brings so much more to the table than Asik. If you can't see that, Ihave question whether or not you have been watching the games.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago This year No.
    Next year Yes.
  • Chai says 9 months ago

    Asik is still the 6th best center in the league. Jones has a bit to grow first.

    This made me think... Outside of the 5 (presumably Howard, Gasol, Hibbert, Chandler, Noah), and excluding Duncan... Would you take Drummond over Asik?

  • Buckko says 9 months ago Asik is still the 6th best center in the league. Jones has a bit to grow first.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago

    Do I really have to comment that Asik is a better player than T Jones? I mean, seriously? I'm sure 9 out of 10 people would say Asik's the better player. Obviously T Jones offense is better, but the overall impact that each has on a game is worlds apart. If you truly believe that Jones is better than Asik, then there is no reason to discuss this further as there would be no common ground for us to reach.

  • rocketrick says 9 months ago

    LMAO

    Cool, so you disagree with my take on Terrance Jones vs. Omer Asik.

    Can you please explain why you believe Omer Asik is a superior 2-way player over Terrance Jones?

    No doubt, last season's Omer Asik is vastly superior to Terrance Jones on the defensive end.

    However, this is a new season.

    I look forward to your viewpoint on this topic as I'm sure other regular readers on this board are as well.

  • RudyT1995 says 9 months ago

    Some of you may view TJ as a savior, while I view him as just an anomaly. He seems to be a product of having Howard on one side of him and Parsons and Harden on the other side. He is the most palatable player to leave unblocked out/open. However I could be wrong.

    Well, he certainly couldn't have landed in a better situation. He came in with relatively low expectations, his team is loaded at every position except the one that he happens to play, and his skill set happens to perfectly compliment the rest of the starters.

    It's nearly the perfect setup for him and I hope it continues to work out for him. He's a talented guy. I don't know if he'll ever play in an allstar game, but it won't be for a lack of talent if he doesn't.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago

    Well, Terrance Jones certainly has proven to me that he has better than average defensive skills for a player his age and experience in the NBA. He is a very effective rebounder as well, doesn't turn the ball over very much and can usually get double figure points in most games.

    I would say Terrance Jones is a much more effective 2-way player, than say an Omer Asik.


    LMAO
  • rocketrick says 9 months ago

    Well, Terrance Jones certainly has proven to me that he has better than average defensive skills for a player his age and experience in the NBA. He is a very effective rebounder as well, doesn't turn the ball over very much and can usually get double figure points in most games.

    I would say Terrance Jones is a much more effective 2-way player, than say an Omer Asik.

  • NorEastern says 9 months ago

    Some of you may view TJ as a savior, while I view him as just an anomaly. He seems to be a product of having Howard on one side of him and Parsons and Harden on the other side. He is the most palatable player to leave unblocked out/open. However I could be wrong.

  • miketheodio says 9 months ago

    is it me or is his second block nuts? he started at the basket and blocked a corner 3.

  • 2016Champions says 9 months ago

    Terrence Jones Per 36 in 18 games:

    15.3 pts

    10.1 rebs

    2.1 blks

    51.4% fg

    39.3% 3pt

    1.1 TO

  • HazeWinkle says 9 months ago

    I still think you're a laker, but we're all entitle to our own opinions.

    Nope defintily not a laker fan or a magic fan. Im a rocket fan through and through but im also their biggest critic and im the same way with the texans but way worse and i can care less about the astros because they are a decade away from being a .500 ball club

  • Buckko says 9 months ago

    Im a realist

    I still think you're a laker, but we're all entitle to our own opinions.

  • HazeWinkle says 9 months ago

    you know I thought Buckko was joking in the other thread where he said you might be an undercover Laker fan.........now I'm starting to wonder :lol:as for T-Jones.......none of us on this forum have forecasted him to be a Rocket savior. there is nothing wrong with being pleased with the progress of our young player. we don't know what he will be yet, but the early returns are very promising. sure there will be bumps in the road like the game in Utah tonight, but it's part of not only the learning curve for him, but this team as well

    Im a realist

  • rockets best fan says 9 months ago

    okay now dont get yalls panties in a bunch this guy has a had a couple good games but so has a lot of players that have turned out to be garbage

    you know I thought Buckko was joking in the other thread where he said you might be an undercover Laker fan.........now I'm starting to wonder :lol:as for T-Jones.......none of us on this forum have forecasted him to be a Rocket savior. there is nothing wrong with being pleased with the progress of our young player. we don't know what he will be yet, but the early returns are very promising. sure there will be bumps in the road like the game in Utah tonight, but it's part of not only the learning curve for him, but this team as well

  • thejohnnygold says 9 months ago

    pib.jpg

  • HazeWinkle says 9 months ago

    okay now dont get yalls panties in a bunch this guy has a had a couple good games but so has a lot of players that have turned out to be garbage

  • Johnny Rocket says 9 months ago

    An insightful post. Here are a few things that came to mind:

    1. Potential Kentucky recruits, beware! A big-time program has its advantages, but when you are compared to the likes of John Wall and Demarcus Cousins on a daily basis and become an after-thought on offense, your draft stock will suffer.

    2. A lot of what Rahat says goes to the "basketball IQ" question raised in another thread. It is a fascinating issue--Jones has no problem with making the right cuts to the basket, but for some reason defensive rotations give him real problems. I suspect that he'll have to work long and hard to master this part of the game, but I predict he'll eventually get it right.

    3 Drafting is so uncertain because you don't how a player is going to develop in terms of maturity, intellect, and work ethic. Jones is headed in the right direction on all those accounts.

    4. McHale took some heat from this site last year for not developing "the rookies" via more playing time. Insisting that they earn a spot via mastery of detail, though, has paid off this year. As John Wooden said, the bench is a coach's most valuable assistant. I suspect D-Mo will be much improved (but not nearly as good as Jones) when he gets the chance at extended playing time.

  • Steven says 9 months ago TJones = HoF

    The best non-Howard move Morey made in the offseason was filling the 4 spot in house. Jones has looked good, and in the one game D-Mo had playing in the rotation, he was putting the ball in the basket. When Asik is traded for picks, a big man rotation of Howard/Jones/ and D-Mo will be formidable, and that's without going small.
  • thenit says 9 months ago I think the biggest thing is that the rockets would sign players that others given up on and one of them would turn up being an asset. I give credit to les who are willing to shell out millions on players who others has given up on.
  • rockets best fan says 9 months ago

    good stuff Rahat. I totally agree perception can be everything. I remember when the Rockets actually tried to trade this guy last year to clear cap room. if I recall correctly we were asking a first round draft pick. I bet if we put him on the block right now the phone would explode :lol:considering this guy is still very young and is still at leasta couple of years from reaching his prime it's exciting to watch him grow. another point I would like to make is places like San Antonio, OKC, Indiana and Chicago have long been known as good teams at developing players. I thought we were behind those teams in that department for a long time. with the added availability of the D-League and the way the Rockets use it we now rival any player development system available. we have much better youngplayersthan teams who draft in front of us every year. some of that is Morey's eye for talent, but some of it is also better development. playing in the D-League really helped-Jones last year. also give the kid credit. rather than viewing it as a demotion he worked his tail off addressing some of the weaknesses in his game. players get better from playing and the D-League offers that chance when the attitude is in the proper place

  • faridyuharden says 9 months ago

    Very interesting. I think Motiejunas was projected to go top 3 as well at one point. Both of them have shown why they were so highly touted. Great picks, hope we can keep both and develop them.