Season in Review: #3 Perry Jones
By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer
Teammate Kevin Durant called Perry Jones the most athletic player in the NBA. With his combination of size, speed, length and leaping ability, that is certainly a distinct possibility. The key for Jones moving forward, in his mind, is to harness those gifts into the product he puts on the basketball floor each night.
From being thrust into the starting lineup for the second half of a regular season game against the Miami Heat to defend LeBron James to switching onto point guards throughout the year, Jones showed flashes of being a multi-tool defender. Within the Thunder’s team concept, there may be a spot for Jones to contribute as a man who can defend all five positions on the floor. Heading into this summer, putting in the work to become a multipurpose defender is at the top of Jones’ list.
“I want to be able to guard anybody at any time,” Jones said. “You never know, if somebody gets in foul trouble, coach can put me in and I can help the team no matter who it is.”
“I see myself being more versatile,” Jones said. “There are lot of things I can do on the basketball court and a lot of things I can do with the ball. I just have to go out there and find my niche whether it’s defense or offense. It all depends on how I develop going forward and how I can help this team win.”
On the offensive end, Jones made strides in 2013-14. He went from attempting just two three-pointers in his rookie season to knocking down 22-of-61 attempts in his second year, good for 36 percent. If Jones can continue to increase that percentage, it will give him the ability spread the floor for the Thunder. Not only does that help open up driving lanes and backdoor cuts for Jones himself, but it also could create more space and easier opportunities for the Thunder’s primary playmakers like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson.
“If I keep shooting that well, it’ll open up things like driving and attacking the paint,” Jones explained. “It’ll also get other guys open shots and open looks. Hopefully it takes pressure off of Kevin and Russ and make their jobs easier.”
Although he didn’t see a ton of minutes down the stretch, Jones was a vital piece of the puzzle during the regular season as he started seven games and saw action in 62 contests. Perhaps the most impressive feat Jones accomplished was being locked in every night on opposing personnel and what his job was in those situations when his number was called. Constant vigilance, even when playing time seemed unlikely, allowed Jones to find success.
“Every game, no matter what happens, I’m going to prepare myself like I’m going to play at least 15 to 20 minutes,” Jones said. “If my name doesn’t get called, then it doesn’t get called. If it does, then I’m already prepared that I’m going to play 20 minutes today. I’m always watching film and getting my mind right, going over plays and everything.”