The Toronto Raptors need a dynamic wing player not a point guard, not a power forward, but a player who causes the same match up headaches that Kevin Durant and LBJ do. There are only two players in this draft that possess that kind of potential, Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones III. The Raptors covet Barnes but it is highly unlikely he will be there at 8. That leaves PJ3 who, to many, is a player that is going to make one GM look like a genius or get him fired. The Raptor environment and coaching staff would be a perfect fit for the young man just finding himself.
“For a player that is so supremely talented he never really lived up to his full potential”. There is no doubt that Jones could have had a far more stellar career at Baylor. He was not a bust but with all his tools why did he only average 14 and 7? Firstly in this world of instant gratification we expect every talented player to walk right into college and dominate, if they don’t then there must be a problem. We tend to forget these guys are human, and thank god we as people are not held to the standard that we hold them to. It would be terrible for everyone to say your whole life was going to be a bust at age 20 because you may have lacked some direction or some drive. Perry Jones may not have figured it all out in college but with proper guidance he could be the best player in the draft including Anthony Davis.
“He can’t play small forward”. This one I do not get at all. Athletically he is above the bar, he has all the basketball skills needed to play the position. So why the argument …. simply, when a player doesn’t fit into a box we try to force him in. They look at his height, weight and find the column that fits therefore they make him a PF. You would think with players like Durant and LBJ rewriting the rule book, GM’s would have more open minded. I am not saying he is either Durant or James just that he doesn’t fit into a box.
Perry Jones stands 6’11 in shoes weighing in at 234lbs with a 7’2” wingspan. 8’ 11” standing reach with 4.6% body fat, that’s the physical. Athletically he has a 33” no step vertical, a max vertical of 38.5”, did the lane agility in a time of 11.31 sec, and in the ¾ sprint 3.19 sec. The numbers speak for themselves, Jones is a freak of nature.
Jones handle is above average for a small forward; I would go so far as to say that he is a more natural ball handler than Harrison Barnes. He has very nice stroke out to the college 3 point line and has even shown NBA range. Here is a quote from Jones after his first session prepping for draft workouts “For example, the first day (in Santa Barbara) we did a 25-shot drill. For college-range threes, I made 18-of-25. And from pro-range threes, I made 15-of-25. I didn’t shoot threes well in college, and I barely shot the three — I think — because I was thinking a lot in college.” He is a solid rebounder for a small forward with room to grow, he is still developing a post game but against most players would have a significant height and strength advantage to exploit.
Jones has just started to understand his own potential; we assume that players all know how good they can be. Let’s be honest. How many of us know someone who, by all counts, is smart and talented but they have no clue. Jones is just getting it:
“I was thinking instead of just playing off of instinct,” he continued to explain. “And I had a team (around him). I didn’t feel pressure to be a great scorer because I had so many other people who could score around me. Just now, I realized that it doesn’t matter who’s on my team or who’s around me, it shouldn’t hinder what I can do best — and that’s score the basketball.
“I think now, if I could do it over, I wouldn’t let anybody get in the way of me being able to score the ball. I wouldn’t think twice about shooting it. I’m probably the most confident that I’ve ever been (now).”
Why the Raptors?
Dwayne Casey is a great teacher and the coaching staff is dedicated to player development. The team is young and developing; a front line of Bargnani, Valanciunas and Jones with the average height of 6’11” with athleticism would be a match up nightmare. Jones was once projected to be a number one pick, he still possesses all the attributes that made evaluators salivate. Jones put it very well, “(NBA executives) can either base things off what I did in college, or they can base it off what they see in the near future, If they want me to come in and work out for them, they can base it off what they see there. If they don’t see that I’ve been working hard every day and that I really want this, then I can’t say nothing about it.” I hope that Bryan Colangelo is brave enough to take a chance on Jones. With the right nurturing he can become the franchise player Toronto has missed since Vince Carter left.