It was hard not to be impressed with Perry Jones The Third after his performance Monday against the Bobcats. Yes, preseason. And yes, Bobcats. But his 8-of-10 effort for 17 points showcased his incredibly well-rounded game and breathtaking athleticism.
It left me thinking that Scott Brooks has to make sure Jones finds minutes this season. But Brooks kind of pumped the brakes Wednesday after practice on that, just a tad.
“And how good he played, he still backs up Kevin, so there aren’t a lot minutes,” Brooks said. “We’re all excited. He did so many things well last game but still, he’s a rookie and Kevin’s pretty good.”
Where Jones is probably most intriguing though isn’t just as Durant’s backup, but in playing with him. They’re similar players, which means the Thunder could have an interesting combination of versatility on the floor together as the two guys switched between the 3 and 4.
“I like that lineup and I haven’t really figured that out,” Brooks said. “With Perry and Kevin they’re the same size and they’re the same athleticism. They can guard each other in practice, which I think helps them. But in the game they can switch, whoever has the mismatch they can go at them in the post. I think they’ve worked that out fairly well.”
It’s all part of the process though for Brooks and his staff to figure out. I’d expect to see some more tinkering and toying with lineup combinations involving Jones and Durant. Because the Thunder could have something working there. They might be able to throw out a group of Westbrook, Harden, Durant, Jones and Perk that makes them a nightmare to match, while still possessing the ability to match the other side.
The issue becomes about who you have to sit though. Brooks said Jones is Durant’s backup, but if they combine on the floor, that means Serge Ibaka sits. Unless of course he starts playing more center this season to which holy crap that’s a lot of length and athleticism.
Jones has to earn his time on the floor though because there’s isn’t a lot of room for him. Like I said, Brooks is going to have to get creative, going to have to play around with things to find him time. It might fluctuate game-to-game. It might depend on matchups. But it’s pretty obvious the Thunder have something in PJIII.
More on Perry Jones: “I think the biggest thing I like is I threw up a lot of different things and multiple positions and he was able to pick things up fairly quick. I say this all the time, it’s not an easy thing to do to pick this league up quickly as a rookie because there are a lot of things thrown at you … but we played him at the 3, we played him at the 4, we had him guard perimeter guys, he had to guard big guys, he brought the ball up the floor, they were pressing and he he made good decisions. And he finished around the basket. His ball handling was good. I thought he was really good all game long.”
On Daniel Orton: “He has a good feel for the game. He knows how to play. He’s big. He’s athletic. He has great hands. He almost has like tight end hands. He catches everything that’s around him. That’s a good asset to have for a big.”
On if Thabo is getting closer: “Yeah he’s shooting at the closed court today so he is a little closer to us. What do you want me to say? … It’s getting closer. I think Thabo did most of practice today. It’s getting close. I hate to say he’s playing Friday if he doesn’t play, but he’s getting close.”
On DeAndre Liggins: “He active man. He wants to defend, he wants win. He kind of just moves around and does it all. He’s a good glue guy to come in and do his role.”
On getting on the same page: “The groove offensively won’t be a problem. Defensively is where we need to find the groove at and stick to it.”
On Perry Jones: “He’s a great, great player, in my opinion. He was supposed to be a top two pick.”