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Friday, March 18, 2011

Stock Attack: Terrence Jones

Current Consensus Projection: Lottery

Terrence Jones hit his freshman season with a head of steam this year, immediately planting himself in lottery discussions. After some huge games against Oklahoma (29pts 13boards) and Notre Dame (27pts 17boards) combined with a Irving injury and Barnes's struggle, he even received some support as the number one pick. He had the numbers, but to me, the numbers didnt exactly add up.

Now he has quietly comeback down to earth, while most still put him right outside of the top 5.  He's never been a top 5 pick in my mind, or even a lottery guy, and I feel like Ive already been somewhat justified in my beliefs. For one, Calipari has stated that he feels none of his players are ready for the NBA Draft. He didnt say that about Patterson, Wall, and Cousins. He's not the kind of coach that can sabotage players' stock for his own benefit.

But hey, if I relied on coaches to form opinions Id have Marshon Brooks pegged as the best scorer in the Big East and sure-fire first rounder, while believing that Kenneth Faried is the best thing since Dennis Rodman (credit to Rick Pitino for both). Ive taken in plenty of Terrence Jones games myself and see him having a rough transition into the league.

I have nothing against tweeners - if I did Id be attacking Vesely, Derrick Williams, and Kawhi Leonard too - but Terrence Jones college game thrives off of mismatches he wont see in the NBA. He faces up PFs and takes them off the dribble and takes smaller defenders into the post. I guess thats where the Lamar Odom comparisons come from, right?

But can he drive by small forwards or elite PFs?

He hasnt shown the skillset to make someone believe that he offers much variety offensively. He only drives  left. You wonder why his play dropped off going through the SEC a second time? Teams figured him out. Its not too hard. He can only drive left, he doesnt change directions well, and doesnt play smart team-oriented ball offensively. His shooting percentage has managed to drop. He's only shooting 43% from the floor now. It beats Harrison Barnes, but there is a big difference between them. Barnes has been scoring by using NBA moves, things that he will also be able to do at the next level. Also, Jones is a 3/4 while Barnes is a 2/3.

The rest of his offensive game isnt helping him. He can post guys up, but not even his biggest fans believe he will be a major post threat in the NBA. His jumper is ugly. He shoots 31% from 3 and 65% from the line. Jumpshots can always been fixed, but his needs a lot of work.

Lets get to the defensive end of the court. Who does he guard? The biggest thing that determines a tweener is the fact that they are in between postions not on offense, but on defense. Offenses can use tweeners to their advantage - on defense, they are often ostracized by opponents and exposed. In my opinion, Terrence Jones has a better shot at playing SF. He actually plays great on ball defense when given the opportunity. He wont be as good against NBA SFs, but I think he could be passable in terms of one on one defense. Too bad defense involves more than that, though, and that is where I question Jones's awareness and BBIQ. Time and time again, he will get himself out of positions trying to play help defense. Trying is the operative word because he usually just places himself in between ball and man without being in position to effect either. What ends up happening a lot of times is a skip pass to his man, which forces Jones to scramble back to his man. He closes out quick, but with no sense of defending the drive. He makes it very simple for the defender to catch the ball and use his momentum against him. He puts himself in these positions over and over again, which is frustrating to me that he doesnt recognize his bad positioning and ensuring close outs. Going along with that, he also tends to bite on play fakes and fall asleep and lose his man. He needs to show better commitment to all that defense in basketball entails - not just what he has to do when his man has the ball.

In the end, there are too many forwards out there that are better bets. Id take Kawhi Leonard, John Henson, Derrick Williams, Perry Jones, Jan Vesely, and possibly Tobias Harris before him. Those are just the combo guys. Other forwards Id take over him are Tyler Honeycutt, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton, and Marcus Morris. Coach Cal might be wrong, though, it might be best for Jones to leave before Kentucky's super class of forwards comes in to steal his minutes.

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