Every draft for any professional sports league has certain players that turn out to be worth more than their landing spot. Well, the Mavs are in a prime position to bring home someone nothing short of a steal. And he won’t even have to change his jersey colors.
The 2012 NBA Draft will take place in 13 days and other than the top pick, no player has a set team that will be drafting him. There are plenty of high quality men to be taken, but none stand head and shoulders above the rest – other than Anthony Davis.
The Kentucky Wildcats are the reigning champions and have six former players that have declared for the draft. (It’s just the era we’re in, right?) Every single one of them has been predicted to be picked in the two rounds. One of these players could go to a team drafting in the teens even though he should be a lottery pick.
The Dallas Mavericks hold the 17th pick in this year’s draft and must bring in somebody that can provide an instant impact, especially with the many questions marks revolving around six unrestricted free agents and the future of their roster.
Picking Jones here isn’t out of the question. Actually, it is highly probable.
This 6-9 explosive combo forward with a 7-2 wingspan came out in his first year as a Wildcat and impressed many scouts. He averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds as a freshman and was predicted to be picked very early on if he decided to enter the draft which he declined to do.
His play the past year didn’t make as many eyebrows rise. Jones’s new team with many new faces forced him to share the load with three phenomenal freshmen – Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Marquis Teague. So, his numbers dropped. This southpaw only averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds, leading to his value also dropping. However, instead of staring at these numbers and coming to the conclusion that he had the dreaded sophomore slump, take a gander at his field goal percentage. While shooting the ball three fewer times than his freshman season, he increased his efficiency by 5.8 percent as he shot 50 percent from the field. A clear development in his gameplay took place as he began making smarter decisions. Yes, he wasn’t as dominant of a force in this second year, but he made the wise decision to fit into a system by accepting and moving to a different position in hope of winning a championship – which happened.
Another factor leading to his drop in the draft is his complacency that many seem to fret over. His attitude and focus are that of a college kid – but that’s what he is. He’s only 20! With age, we can only assume his maturity will continue to grow, especially if he joins forces with a veteran team.
This Wildcat’s natural talent and athleticism should be driving lottery teams to fit him into their plans, but a few of Jones’s negatives have him in the middle of the first round. The pessimists anticipate he might become the next Michael Beasley or Earl Clark while the optimists see the next Josh Smith in the making (in a good way).
The Mavs should be optimistic. As last year’s campaign showed, the former champions missed a certain piece that provided energy on both ends of the floor and simply crashed the boards while also putting in much needed buckets every once in a while. (I know, I know… Tyson’s gone and it’s over. I got it.)
Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle has made a career out of implementing specified players into certain situations. How else do you explain Corey Brewer, Peja Stojakovic and an accountant Brian Cardinal getting significant minutes during last year’s championship run? He finds players strengths and then systematically uses those qualities in different gameplans. With the many developing abilities in Jones’s skill set, Carlisle would happily and smoothly fit him into his system.
Even though Jones tends to only play well in spurts, he has the potential to provide these exact qualities with solid development. As a hybrid forward, is there a better combination of forwards to play with than Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki? These two veterans would show Jones what “giving it your all” truly means and undoubtedly help with any maturity issues.
Being such an odd player without a clear-cut position, Jones doesn’t have the standard, polished skills that most small forwards have or most power forwards have; however his huge upside is indisputable. This kid drives with reckless abandon, finishes with authority and can pull up for a jumper with control. This kid has versatility written all over his fluid game. This kid is one of the most talented players in the draft.
And becoming a Maverick would only advance this talent.
Most of the management in Dallas has their sole focus on bringing All-Star Deron Williams back to his hometown, but they simply can’t let this enticing opportunity slide by. With his level of skill and athleticism along with a build already set for the grind of NBA basketball, the Mavericks would be getting an absolute steal if they draft Jones with their 17th pick. Just get that cat in the bag.
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