Terrence Jones' Rise with Rockets Started with NBA D-League's Vipers

It became clear early this season that Rockets forward Terrence Jones would emerge as one of the biggest recent NBA D-League-to-NBA success stories, but Wednesday's news that he had been named to the 2014 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge represented the icing on the cake. A year after being selected to the NBA D-League All-Star Game, the 22-year-old will get to celebrate his status as one of the big league's elite young players on a star-studded weekend in New Orleans.

It's a dramatic turnaround from a rookie season in which Jones, the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft, played just 19 games for the Rockets and didn't seem to be a major factor into their rebuilding plans. Now he's the starting power forward for a 31-17 team with championship aspirations, an ideal, up-and-coming sidekick to superstars Dwight Howard and James Harden. But a closer look at his rookie stats with the affiliate RGV Vipers reveals that that Rising Star ability was lurking inside Jones even last season.

While the difference in the raw numbers is stark -- 19.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in 30.9 minutes per game with RGV (24 games) vs. 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game with Houston (43 games) -- his rate stats have essentially translated to the next level:

Vipers (2012-13)
Rockets (2013-14)54.555.918.414.68.719.7

In short, Jones has been equally as effective as a scorer and rebounder in the NBA this season as he was in the NBA D-League last season, with the only difference being that he now has a much smaller role; he's used far fewer of the Rockets' possessions and been asked to create his own shot much less frequently (49.1% of his FGs with RGV were unassisted compared to 32.4% with Houston). This is further proof that the NBA D-League is a league of opportunity.

And it's also evident that Jones used the opportunity to develop his three-point range, taking 4.2 threes per game with RGV compared to just 1.5 with Houston. He's remained just as effective as a scorer overall by focusing his game on the paint -- where he's shot 59.9% this season after shooting 57.8% in the NBA D-League -- and utilizing the corner three:

% of shots
in paint
% of shots
from 3
Corner 3
Wing 3
Vipers (2012-13)60.528.92/5 (40%)26/75 (34.7%)
Rockets (2013-14)75.615.79/23 (39%)7/30 (23.3%)

Shot Chart comparison (RGV 2012-13 left; Houston 2013-14 right):