Player Profile: Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets
One of the biggest questions that has evolved from the NBA offseason is who the Rockets will pair with Dwight Howard in their frontcourt rotation. There has been speculation of Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones. Many think that Jones is primed for a breakout sophomore season, despite his offseason trouble. He will attempt to put that ordeal behind him this season and become a key player in the Rockets rotation after playing 14.5 minutes in 19 games last season.
Since he played so few minutes last season, this profile needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as Jones was not on the court long enough to show all his skills, but we can begin to see what Jones can provide to the team.
Jones showed he could beat his defender down the floor to pick up some easy buckets. He has the quickness to beat the opposing big man to the rim and has great hands to catch the long pass after a defensive rebound or a made basket.
The Rockets played the quickest of any team last season, so this will be nice skill for Jones to show off if he sees an uptick in minutes. By sprinting down the floor in transition, he will be able to pick up several easy baskets a game.
The next area in Jones’ game shows the perfect example of why it may be dangerous to break down Jones after playing so few minutes last season. Jones showed several times he has the confidence and ability to take a defensive rebound or a steal the entire length of the court and finish himself.
He looked comfortable enough dribbling the length of the court but he will likely not be called upon to lead the break on a regular basis. This is a nice skill to show off every once in a while but in the long run, he shouldn’t try to be a transition point guard regularly.
Off Ball Cuts
Jones’ movement off the ball was nice last year, which helps him play off Jeremy Lin, James Harden and the other guards of the Rockets. He can find the open space off of penetration and can finish at the rim. According to basketball-reference, he shot 74% at the rim last season, many of which came off these cuts.
Here’s Jones right before Carlos Delfino is about to start a baseline drive. Nick Collision is going to drop down to cut off the drive and if Jones stayed where he was, the defense would have time to recover if Delfino dropped it off to Jones.
Jones takes a few steps up the lane to put some space between himself and the action. This makes the pass from Delfino easier, as there are no defenders around him and gives Jones an open lane to the rim, as the defense is not in position to recover quickly enough to stop the drive.
This type of off ball movement will be one of the most important things Jones can provide to the Rockets next season, no matter what players comprise the lineup around him. The Rockets have plenty of guards who can drive and dish to him if he finds the space. He will also find some open area if he plays alongside Howard and the defense doubles him in the post.
Areas of Improvement
Three Point Shooting
While Jones excelled at finishing at the rim, he struggled at any attempt outside the restricted area, shooting only 22% (7-32) on shots longer than 10 feet, including 5-21 on three point shots. As you can see, his attempts are not even close to going in, as many of them are way off line.
It looks like Jones starts the shot from too high, which causes him to overuse his arms as he flings the ball toward the rim instead of shooting it. This means his shots are either off line or long. He needs to fix his shooting motion, starting with his release motion to become a more viable threat.
Defenses played off him last season, clogging the lane on drives or on the post entry. With the personnel of the Rockets, Jones will need to be seen as a viable shooter, so defenses will respect him a little, opening up options for the rest of the team. If he does, his minutes should rise.
With the two big man lineups many Western Conference teams are showing, Jones is at a distinct disadvantage on defense. He is not big enough or strong enough to guard the likes of Zach Randolph or Pau Gasol in the post, which leads him to getting abused when matched up with these players.
If the offensive players find themselves off the block, they can use their height to shoot over Jones with little resistance, as you will see from the first couple clips. When they gain good position, they can easily back down Jones for a bucket. Jones doesn’t get wide enough position to slow them down nor is he savvy enough to recognize and stop the post moves.
2013-14 Season Outlook
Jones will likely see an increase in his minutes which will provide us a better look at his skills and what he can contribute to the Rockets. His speed should help him get some transition baskets but his size will continue to hurt him on defense until he adds some strength. To be a key member of the rotation, he will have to work on his shot release to become a more accurate shooter to provide spacing for the guards as well as the posts of Howard.
Jonew will hope to have a breakout sophomore season and see aa significant increase in both his minutes played and his production. This profile gives us a good start on his skills but the small sample size of his minutes played needs to be accounted for. It will be interesting to see how Jones fits into the rotation this season and which big man he is paired with on a regular basis.