2021 NBA Draft Profile

Kai

Jones

Round 1Pick 19
Drafted By:New York Knicks
Position
F
Height/Weight
6-10 / 221 lbs
School/Club
Texas
Country
Bahamas
Status
Sophomore
Birthday
01/19/2001
Draft 2021

DRAFT TRADE:

Acquired by Hornets in trade with Knicks
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About Kai Jones

Kai Jones is a late blooming forward with an impressive combination of size and athleticism who has made major strides as a shooter since picking up the game at age 15.  Growing up in the Bahamas, Jones focused on track and field until a massive growth spurt steered him towards basketball.  A strong showing at the 2017 Basketball Without Borders Americas Camp earned him an opportunity to play high school basketball in the United States and he ultimately landed at Brewster Academy (NH) where he finished his postgraduate year widely regarded as one of the top-50 prospects in the high school class of 2019.  Heading to Texas to play under former Head Coach Shaka Smart, the 20-year-old carved played rotation minutes as a freshman but saw his role and skill set evolve significantly as a sophomore.  Averaging 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season,  Jones was named Big XII Sixth Man of the Year while helping the Longhorns to a Big XII Tournament Championship. 

Listed  at 6’10 with a 7’1 wingspan, Jones has good size for a power forward to go along with a wiry 218-pound frame and impressive athleticism for his size.  A long-strider and effortless leaper, Jones covers ground like few big men in this draft. 

• Playing significant minutes off the bench for the Longhorns, Jones did not play a major offensive role, but made a mark with his ability to beat opposing big men down the floor and catch lobs in the half court.  Emerging as a viable floor spacer after experimenting with the three as a freshman and showing a budding comfort level with the ball, he made some important strides as a sophomore even if he was not carrying a heavy scoring burden.

• Possessing tremendous lateral speed and leaping ability, Jones had some eye-opening moments defensively at the collegiate level.  While he lacks a degree of physical strength and polish, his ability to slide his feet on the perimeter, leaping ability pursuing blocks, and energy made him a difference maker for the Longhorns and give him intriguing long-term upside.


Advanced Stats

• A lanky, explosive finisher, Jones was dynamic in the open floor as a sophomore, generating 25% of his possessions in transition.  Not only did he run the wings well but found some success pushing the ball himself and trailing plays as he averaged an impressive 1.29 points per transition possession [86th percentile].

• Against a set defense, only half of Jones’s shots came in finishing situations as he spent quite a bit of time on the perimeter last season.  Averaging 1.35 points per shot around the rim in the half court [83rd percentile], Jones finished emphatically moving off the ball and crashing the glass.

• With almost a third of his shots within Texas’s half court offense coming from beyond the arc, Jones showed huge growth as a jump shooter even if he has some things to clean up mechanically.  Averaging 1.13 points per catch and shoot jump shot in the half court [70th percentile] after struggling with his consistency last season, Jones seemed to find a comfort level with his mechanics that translated in limited attempts.  Even tossing in an occasional turnaround jumper and showing some ability to drive the ball against slower big men and eurostep his way past help defenders, his game noticeably evolved in his second season with the Longhorns.

• Jones’s decision-making remains a work in progress as he’s still learning how to pick and choose his spots and keep things simple, but while he remains raw in some ways, he seemed to turn a corner as a sophomore.


Defensive Analysis

• Possessing terrific lateral speed and solid length for his size, Jones made some extremely athletic plays on the defensive end over his two seasons in Austin.  Altering shots, containing smaller guards, and covering a lot of ground off the ball, Jones is still learning how to use his tools consistently on the glass and where to be in rotation, but stood out at times last season.

• Allowing 0.82 points per one-on-one possession [40th percentile], Jones fought foul trouble some nights, but showed the ability to recover when beat to throw shots off the glass as well.  His potential as a multi-positional stopper is intriguing if his frame and game continue to mature.

 

— Profile by Synergy Sports