Kentucky has had a nice run of NBA prospects. John Calipari is not a coach who beats around the bush. He is trying to get his players jobs in the league and he does a great job of it.
This year will be no different with Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist expected to go at the top of the draft.
Orlando has some experience with Calipari’s Kentucky players. The Magic drafted Daniel Orton in 2010 and DeAndre Liggins in 2011. Orton is not likely to be on the roster next year and Liggins showed promise but needed more practice time to get accustomed to the NBA game.
Picking Kentucky players this late in the Draft has its warnings then for the Magic.
Terrence Jones may buck that trend. Jones is one of the great mysteries of this Draft.
Like many players coming out of college, he seems to really be in between positions. He is listed at 6-foot-9, 252 pounds so he possesses nice size for a power forward. But he plays more like a pivot and a center than that. Last season, he averaged 12.3 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game, seeing his numbers decrease playing alongside Anthony Davis.
Jones has potential but a lot of questions to answer heading into the Draft.
The Good: Jones has a lot of physical tools that will serve him well in the NBA. He is a rare kind of athlete and probably one of the best pure athletes in this Draft. More than that, he seems really to have honed in his athleticism and has a good command of it. That is something you rarely see.
Jones is a team player and does a lot of nitty gritty work. Much like Liggins for Kentucky’s Final Four run in 2011, Jones was doing a lot of the little things playing alongside Davis for Kentucky’s national championship team last year. There is no telling where the Wildcats would have been without him.
He has good sense defensively and is a good post defender. He got the call on Thomas Robinson throughout the night in the national championship game and helped keep Robinson to 18 points on 6-for-17 shooting. That is a pretty good defensive job on one of the best post players in the nation.
Jones is capable of having big games himself, but he was just as likely to do other things his team needed.
The Bad: Jones has all the tools, just nobody is quite sure how to use them. He is somewhere between a small forward and a power forward and finding his fit in his position will be priority one.
He does not have the range to be a great small forward, but his athleticism rates well compared to other small forward. His size suggests he is a power forward, but nobody is sure if he can take the banging of playing on the block. Luckily for him, perhaps, is the fact the NBA is trending more toward stretch-4s.
So the question is can he keep up with them and extend his range? That is the question.
He has to the tools in his tool box to be a fine NBA player, it is just unclear how he will put them all together. The right situation will be very important for this improving player.
Draft Sites Say:
NBADraft.net: “Jones is a 6-foot-9, 252-lb. matchup problem who had 2 very good seasons at Kentucky … A southpaw with good agility, leaping skills, explosiveness and quickness for his size … Has the ability to make athletic plays in traffic … Main question revolving around Jones is about his position, or lack thereof … Many don’t know if he is a classic tweener and how he can fit in certains teams style … Although a very good overall athlete, Jones’ isn’t truly exceptional in any way.”
Matt Kamalsky, DraftExpress: “While his resume looks much better, and the memories will last a life-time, it is debatable whether Jones did his NBA stock any good by returning to school. The talented forward struggled with the same issues that raised the eyebrows of scouts last season, but did so under a new wave of intense scrutiny all year long, seeing his production and touches drop while adding another layer of doubt which he was able to relieve somewhat in March with a strong NCAA Tournament showing.”
Evan Dunlap, Orlando Pinstriped Post: “No one can question Terrence Jones’ talent. The combo forward ranked as the tenth-best prospect in the 2010 high school class, and as a freshman with UK, he averaged 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and three combined steals and blocks. What worries NBA scouts, writes Matt Kamlasky of DraftExpress, is his maturity.”
Final Word: Again, there may not be a more intriguing prospect in this draft. The potential coming out of Terrence Jones is astounding. The problem is, despite all this talent, he has not been able to put it all together and really shine.
Jones is very much a project.
First, the team that drafts him has to figure out what position to put him at. Second, they have to wait and develop him.
Jones can find success. He is a team player and a guy that will take a hit with his own stats to help his teammates. That was absolutely key to Kentucky winning the national championship.
But the fact that it is very difficult to tell what position he wants to play and how best to use his athleticism, has long-term project written all over it. That may not be something the Magic want to do with a player who does not have an incredibly high ceiling.