The Hall of Fame Case for Bobby Jones | Offensive Opportunism
Welcome to our three-part retrospective looking back on the career of 76ers legend Bobby Jones, a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2019 Enshrinement. Over the next few weeks, we’ll examine Jones’ famous defensive prowess, his underrated offensive power, and his redefinition of clutch play. Here’s Part II:
Naturally, when a player makes 10 All-Defensive 1st Teams in his career, that tends to draw first notice. So, when we think of Bobby Jones, it’s understandable to initially focus on his defensive greatness.
Heck, that’s what we did in Part I of this retrospective on the finalist for the 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class enshrinement class.
Part II of this series, however, is going to shine some love on the often-overlooked offensive power that Jones brought to the 76ers, and to do so, it’s important to provide some context.
Bobby Jones never threatened to lead the NBA in scoring. His career scoring average was 12.1 points a game, and just once did he surpass 15.0 points per game for a season. Only four times in his whole career did he notch over 30 points in a single game, with his career-high of 33 coming on March 7, 1979.
Yet, if you fell asleep on Jones, he’d make you pay. Just because he wasn’t going to pump out 20 points every night didn’t mean he couldn’t hit your team up for an easy 20 points if you disregarded or ignored him.
Given that Jones’ greatest offensive gift was awareness, he’d notice if a defensive scheme neglected his presence. Indeed, with Julius Erving, Doug Collins, Andrew Toney, Charles Barkley, or Moses Malone causing trouble, opponents could sometimes fall victim to forgetting about Jones.
When defenses did overload on one of the Sixers’ offensive stars, like Erving or Collins, Jones exploited the cracks that appeared. He knew when to slip through on backdoor cuts and get a feed from Toney. He sprung open for 18-foot jumpers to relieve pressure on Moses or Barkley.
Most dangerously, Jones could fill a lane on the fast break and furiously finish with a dunk courtesy of a Maurice Cheeks assist.
Except for Doctor J, nobody on the 76ers from the late-1970s through mid-1980s struck terror bearing down the break like Bobby Jones.
Combine Jones’ opportunistic play with his ability to pop jumpers and finish ambidextrously around the basket, and you produce some startling offensive efficiency.
Jones harbored a career field goal percentage of .560. That’s 15th-best all-time for NBA/ABA players.
His true shooting percentage – a stat that weighs the efficiency of 2-pointers, 3-pointers, and free throws – sits at .607. That’s 16th best all-time for NBA/ABA players.
And Jones’ offensive rating – the amount of points per 100 possessions his teams scored with him on the court – was the best on the Sixers every year from 1979 to 1984. He settled for second-best in that category in 1985 and 1986.
This doesn’t mean Bobby was the best scorer, but the numbers do prove that the offense functioned best when he was out there to grease the wheels.
Not bad for a man most notable for defense.
In our third and final look back at Jones’ Hall of Fame-worthy career, we’ll see how he combined his offensive and defensive awareness to create clutch plays that came up big for the 76ers.