Welcome to OKC Perry Jones III
Oklahoma City had one and only one pick in the 2012 NBA draft so they needed to make sure that they made it count. With the 28th pick of the draft, OKC selected Perry Jones III out of Baylor University. My opinion of this pick in a nutshell: a possible match made in heaven. The Thunder are stacked with young, talented players and now they have just added one more to their roster. At 6-11 and 235 lbs he is a big man but a very athletic and versatile one. In his sophomore year at Baylor Jones averaged 13.5 ppg while shooting 50% from the field and averaged 7.6 rebounds. With the speed and athleticism Jones possesses, he has the potential to be a perfect fit for OKC. He is a young, fast, talented player joining a young, fast, talented team, so he should fit right in. He will most likely play off the bench behind starting power forward Serge Ibaka and could add some needed depth to the Thunder bench. His game does need some maturing but playing behind all-stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook should help with that. Jones was quoted after the draft saying this about Durant; "He's my favorite player. So therefore, for me to be under his wing is going to do wonders for me." Other important aspects of his game include his ability to handle the ball, great passing vision, his ability to run the floor and he can shoot. With his size and ability he also has the potential to be a solid defensive presence for the Thunder off the bench, which is something they need for when Perkinds and Ibaka are sitting. Some experts are calling him the steal of the draft and others are calling him a boom or bust. Time will tell which one he becomes but overall a smart pick by OKC.
There's no denying his potential but one reason OKC drafted him has very little to do with his talent and everything to do with him being a team player. OKC Assistant General Manager Troy Weaver was quoted saying this about PJ3; "Everybody looks at his talent and says, 'this guys should be dominant.' But, this guy plays within teamwork and tries to blend with players and help his team win ball games." If we know one thing about the Thunder it's that they are all about the team. One other thing many Thunder fans have probably noticed is that many of the team’s players come from interesting backgrounds. Just like many of his new teammates, Jones has an interesting story of his own all about triumph and perseverance. According to ESPN.com through out much of his final season in high school, Jones was living homeless bouncing from one hotel room to another. In addition, his mother is also battling a severe heart condition. When talking about what life for him was like in high school Jones was quoted saying "The last thing I was worried about was school. I was worried about where I was going to sleep at night. It was hard to do the things I wanted to do as a kid. The last thing on my mind was going to parties or movies. I felt like I needed to get home every day to make sure my family was ok." Some have criticized him for playing "soft" but hopefully he will let his past drive him to become a better basketball player and prove his doubters wrong. His character makes me believe he will add to the great chemistry that this team possesses and is just one more reason I think he will be a great fit for the Thunder.
After his freshman season, he was projected to be a top five draft pick but instead of entering the draft he decided to stay in school one more year. The reason he fell all the way down to 28th is because of medical concerns. Jones has reportedly been medically red flagged for an issue with the meniscus in his right knee however, Oklahoma City General Manager Sam Presti doesn't seem too worried. Presti was recently quoted saying "We've looked at all the information that we've had available and we wouldn't have selected him unless we felt comfortable with all of the information." It has been Presti's success in recent drafts that have allowed this team to be rebuilt and climb to the top of the Western conference in only four years. Presti has yet to steer his team (and their fans) wrong. I have confidence in the talent that Jones possesses and believe he could be a potential all-star in the NBA if he stays healthy. What I have even more confidence in however is the decision making of Sam Presti and that is why I think he will be a great addition to the Thunder roster. Welcome to Loud City Perry Jones III.