The Houston Rockets selected Terrence Jones with the 18th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Last March, as the Rockets were in the midst of a race for the 8th seed in the West, Terrence Jones was a non-factor. He was sent to the D-League with average results, dangled at the trade deadline as the Rockets looked for draft picks, and had yet to appear for the Rockets since December before Kevin McHale let him loose in a early April game against the Kings.
After spending the bulk of his rookie year with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBDL (where he averaged 19 points and nine rebounds a game), Jones credits his stint in the D-League for his development.
“Not playing a lot can be stressful. Being in the d-league, being able to get minutes, and being able to keep my confidence is a great advantage especially for young guys in this league.”
Jones is currently averaging 11.8 points a game, 7.0 rebounds, 1.28 blocks, and 1.1 assists for the season and is a great compliment to Dwight Howard. “Learning from guys like Dwight and James and just seeing how much of a professional way they come to practice everyday and going hard can make you get so much better.”
Terrence Jones scored a career-high 36 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday Jan 18th. He also finished with 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and one 3-pointer. He scored 25 points in the first half, made 12 consecutive shots at one point and finished shooting 14-of-20 from the field.
The depth of talent at the power forward position has also helped to accelerate Jones’ learning curve. Going against guys like Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Paul Millsap, Serge Ibaka, and Zach Randolph can put lots of pressure on a young player. Terrence specifically mentioned Randolph as one of his challenges to guard this year.
“When I go up against Zach Randolph he is one of the guys that is really tough. He has a great way of scoring, using his body, being real physical for offensive rebounding and overall he is just real aggressive.”
There are certainly confounding variables at play here, but as a whole it seems clear that Jones simply needs to improve in team defense. He has a propensity for making the highlight reel with his backboard-jarring blocks, but he also can get out of position and leave his man open when going to help.
If he can learn to harness his incredible athleticism, he has the potential to be a Josh Smith-like effect on that end, but he needs to work on his positioning and discipline before he can realize that potential. With any luck, Kevin McHale and his team of assistants can make a mark there.
Jones is just a sophomore and has less than half a season of full playing time under his belt, but one thing is clear: He is here to stay. Though Morey would love to add talent at any position, the hole at power forward sure has gotten a great deal smaller.
“Having a higher IQ i’m still a young guy in this league and I’m just trying to learn everyday.”