by Conrad Brunner
May 21, 2003
By the Numbers: Made 19 appearances, averaging 6.1 minutes and 1.2 points. Missed 26 of the final 28 games with left knee tendinitis. Had season highs of six points against Orlando on Nov. 22 and 25 minutes in his lone start at Washington on Jan. 4. Had five points in four minutes in the return to his hometown of Portland on March 8.
Playoffs: Not on the postseason roster.
Plus-Minus: Ranked 15th at minus 16 (minus 0.8 per game).
Contract Status: Entering the second of a reported four-year, $6.77 million contract.
Analysis: His rookie season never got off the ground. Though drafted No. 14 overall because, as a four-year college player he was deemed capable of playing right away, he was unable to carve a niche in the backcourt behind veteran backups Erick Strickland and Ron Mercer. He is a tremendous athlete with the ability to make remarkable plays look routine, and has the potential to become a strong defender. His jump shot needs work, and it remains to be seen if he can run an offense well enough to become a backup at both guard spots.
Crystal Ball: With Strickland a free agent, it’s possible playing time will open up in front of Jones. He shouldn’t be too discouraged about his lack of appearances as a rookie. He follows in the paths of Jeff Foster (19 games in ’99-00), Jonathan Bender (24 games in ’99-00), Al Harrington (21 games in ’98-99) and Austin Croshere (26 games in ’97-98) as first-rounders who had to wait their turns.
Final Grade: Incomplete.