Thunder Introduces Jones III to Oklahoma City
The grin that spreads across Jones’ face seems like it’s always there, through good times and bad, and was prominent today when the Thunder introduced their 2012 first round pick at the Thunder Events Center on Saturday afternoon. On Thursday night General Manager Sam Presti nabbed Jones, a sophomore from Baylor, with the 28th overall selection and explained his pleasure about the pick on Saturday before an audience at a Thunder Youth Basketball Camp.
“We’re really excited about this, it’s a great day for the organization,” Presti said. “As we went through the draft process, this is somebody we feel very confident is a great fit for our culture on and off the floor. When you get a chance to meet him, I think you’ll first be impressed with his humility.”
That humble nature should be a perfect match with the rest of the Thunder’s locker room, and Jones even said that half a dozen Thunder players have already welcomed him to the family through text message or Twitter to let him know to be in touch if he needs anything. Playing alongside the likes of other versatile big men like Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant and Nick Collison is something Jones Looks forward to. He just wants to step in and help out wherever the team needs him, realizing that it will be a hard-working process ahead of him to continue to develop.
“Anywhere possible,” Jones said. “I just want to be able to contribute to the team as much as possible. Hopefully I can fill something that they thought was missing.”
Joining a team that made it to the NBA Finals last season and looks to improve from that benchmark is great for a young player who already has been around a winning culture. He can’t wait to get on the floor and play some up-and-down basketball with a handful of his teammates at the NBA’s Summer League in Orlando, and is happy that his family, based out of Dallas, will be close by.
“I couldn’t ask for a better situation,” Jones said.
The Thunder feels that it will be a mutually beneficial situation because they picked up a player that can impact the game on multiple levels. Noted as a “blend” player by Presti and Assistant General Manager Troy Weaver on Thursday night, Jones finds ways to fit in with his teammates on the floor and be a part of positive plays on both offense and defense.
“As a basketball player, he has great versatility and like the players that we look to and we covet, he’s a team first player,” Presti said. “He’s a guy that understands the team dynamic, and we value that greatly. On the floor also he has a great skill level, he’s a guy that plays both ends of the floor and he has great quickness for his position.”
Jones’ ability to utilize his physical gifts while diagnosing what his team needs from him on a given night will certainly come in handy for a Thunder team that already has a number of great pieces. During his time at Baylor, Jones showed the Thunder scouts that he had a penchant for scoring when his team needed an offensive punch, rebounding when they needed him to be tough on the glass and distributing when others needed to be involved. That fluid, dynamic nature of Jones’ game is something that he has developed by working hard for many years.
“I learned it over the course of playing,” Jones said. “I’m going to learn from the older guys here. They’re going to teach me a lot of things, teach me how to play Thunder basketball and I just hope that I fit in as good as I possibly can.”
In the Oklahoma City community, he took his first steps in fitting in on Saturday by joining the campers on the basketball floor after the introductory press conference. He was a chatterbox on the floor with the kids, as he playfully swatted shots, threw down a few dunks and found his young teammates for open shots. All while he worked up a sweat with his new fans, Jones still had that grin plastered across his face.
“A lot of one-on-ones, it was fun to play with those guys,” Jones said. “I had a great time. It was just like I thought it was going to be. Everybody is real nice and down to earth here. Everybody is kind.”