The prevailing wisdom says that this trade was because of money and that’s true. The Thunder got a lot back for the Sixth Man of the Year while maintaining cap flexibility. The main reason, though? It’s because the Thunder can remain contenders this year because of a certain off-season addition to their team. Their first round pick (or steal) Perry Jones III has had a dynamic pre-season: he has shown off a silky smooth jumper, a solid handle and has thrown down his fair share of alley-oops in the pre-season. Jones threw down 3 or 4 alley-oops in the pre-season Chicago Bulls games and also posterized Tyrus Thomas earlier this month.
Jones was projected as a top 5 pick last year, but went back to Baylor where he had a bit of a lackluster year. Then a medical redflag before the draft caused him to slip to the Thunder at the 28th pick.
Jones has lit up the pre-season, though, and already has a couple of admirers in Oklahoma. Russell Westbrook mused “he’s a great, great player, in my opinion. He was supposed to be a top two pick.”
Scott Brooks is a fan too, and one can wonder whether Brooks gave Sam Presti license to trade his bearded guard to open up some more minutes for the rookie. Brooks has apparently been playing Jones at Small Forward, Power Forward and even allowed him to handle the ball up the court a bit too.
“I think the biggest thing I like is I threw up a lot of different things and multiple positions and he was able to pick things up fairly quick,” Coach Brooks said. “I say this all the time, it’s not an easy thing to do to pick this league up quickly as a rookie because there are a lot of things thrown at you … but we played him at the 3, we played him at the 4, we had him guard perimeter guys, he had to guard big guys, he brought the ball up the floor, they were pressing and he he made good decisions. And he finished around the basket. His ball handling was good. I thought he was really good all game long.”
In a game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Jones completely filled up the stat sheet with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. At 7 feet tall, Jones has the size, skills, and athleticism to be a star in the NBA. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this mix tape.
He even told a reporter that he has a game similar to Kevin Durant‘s and wants to learn everything he can from him. Jones said during his rookie year he wants to “pretty much just work hard and learn from Kevin. We’re sort of the same size, sort of the same skill sets. He’s just at a much better level. So definitely learn from him on the offensive end and being able to guard him on defense every day, or trying to guard him on defense every day, is gonna help me defensively. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a lot for the team.”
As luck would have it, Jones will be training in the same building as Durant for the foreseeable future. Or until Jones outplays his rookie deal, demands a max contract and then gets traded to the Rockets.