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Credit: 
Glenn James/NBA

Celtics Have Nothing to Lose in Jones Deal

Nothing feels better than pulling off a something-for-nothing trade during the NBA offseason.

The Boston Celtics did just that on Tuesday, acquiring 23-year-old forward Perry Jones III from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with a 2019 second-round pick from the Detroit Pistons and cash considerations. In return, the C’s only had to surrender a future conditional second-round pick to OKC.

The Thunder drafted Jones 28th overall out of Baylor University during the 2012 NBA Draft and he was labeled as one of the top athletes of that draft class. But over the course of his first three seasons, the 6-foot-11, 235-pound forward struggled to find court time (11.7 minutes per game); though that’s understandable considering Oklahoma City’s depth and vast range of talent.

The good news is, when given the opportunity, Jones has produced some eye-opening performances.

At the beginning of last season, while Kevin Durant sat out due to injury, Jones earned a starting spot in OKC’s lineup. He erupted for a 32-point performance during the second game of the season on 10-of-17 shooting. That was followed up with scoring efforts of 20 and 16 points respectively, as the big man racked up 68 points over a three-game span.

It appeared the Thunder had found a viable replacement to fill in during Durant’s absence, and KD certainly had his back. During the 2014 Western Conference finals, Durant reportedly referred to Jones as “the best athlete in the league,” according to Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.

But the starting role that he fought so hard to obtain was gone almost as soon as it had arrived.

During the fifth game of the 2014-15 season against Toronto, Jones went down with a knee injury, which kept him sidelined until Dec. 5. He’s battled knee issues for several years, which hampered his draft status from a potential lottery pick to a late first-round selection.

When Jones returned, his role with the team diminished and he only scored 116 points during the remaining 38 games he participated in.

But that flash of success has resonated and he has skills that could make him a solid contributor off of Boston’s bench.

Offensively, Jones is fantastic in the transition game. His soft touch around the rim and ability to cut to the basket display why Durant was willing to make such a bold statement last May.

One area of Jones’ game that needs a bit of work is his long-range shooting consistency. He certainly has potential from beyond the arc. He loves to pick-and-pop from the 3-point line and is not afraid to shoot for a man of his size, having taken 3.4 3-point attempts per 36 minutes last season; but his subpar .233 3-point shooting percentage from his 2014-15 campaign needs to spike up a bit.

If he can find that shot and maybe add some strength and post moves, Jones could end up being a valuable member of the Celtics’ rotation. He’s got a sensational first step off the dribble, which most men his size can’t keep up with, and has defensive potential due to his great length (7-2 wingspan).

Many predicted Jones to be the steal of the 2012 NBA draft when the Thunder selected him 28th overall. He hasn’t lived up to that prevision yet, but if he can grow among Boston’s young core and blend into a contributive role within its fast-paced system, he could end up being one of the steals of the 2015 NBA offseason.

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