A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Getting a head start on the draft: Why I have Perry Jones III as the #1 prospect

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Image via Bleacher Report

For half the fans in the league, the upcoming draft is more important than  the upcoming playoffs by this time of year. More than any sport, NBA teams have their fortunes determined by the draft and lottery. The teams that get star players in the draft win, the teams that don’t lose. When your team is bad, it’s the draft that matters.

For the first time since the 2006 draft where Andrea Bargnani went #1 (excuse me while I puke, I’m a Raptors fan) there’s no “surefire star” prospect. Nobody is a cinch prospect like John Wall, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and Greg Oden had he stayed healthy were.

Who’s #1? Right now PF Perry Jones III and PG Kyrie Irving seem to have the edge for top 2. A brief scouting report on each: Jones is a 6’11 PF who wants to play like a perimeter player, has freakish athleticism, but is raw and skinny. Irving is a complete PG – He’s fast, has decent size, has great ballhandling and shooting skills, and clearly reads the floor well. Irving is a very good prospect, but I believe Jones III is the top prospect in the draft for these reasons:

First, the goal of every team picking 1st should be to get a franchise star. Everything else pales. Thus, all draft strategy should be based on which players are most likely to be stars. What makes stars? Forcing an offensive mismatch on defenders. This can come from speed, size, or simply skill and basketball IQ – one or more of these X factors leave defenders seemingly ill equipped to stop their go-to moves. It doesn’t matter if they are playing strong defense, the offensive player’s skillset outweighs them.

I believe Perry Jones III has the most offensive mismatch and X factor potential in the draft. With his first step explosiveness and mobility for a power forward, he will almost surely put most PFs defending him at a footspeed disadvantage. Add in unusally high perimeter skills for a big man and the mismatch potential as a face-up PF becomes clear. Chris Bosh has made a living off his face-up first step and other players like Lamar Odom have used unusal perimeter skills from the PF position to beat defenders. Perry Jones III could have both and a great vertical game. He has a long way to go including developing his jumpshot and improving his rebounding and defending, but he has the upside to be a top 10-15 player or even superstar MVP candidate.

With all due respect to Irving, I don’t believe he ranks as a great offensive mismatch or X factor player. He’s fast, but without freakish explosiveness he doesn’t have the first step stars like Rose and Westbrook have. He has decent size, but not enough to force a mismatch. He’s simply very good at driving, passing, shooting and reading the game – rather than unguardable in one area of the game. Now the defenders of Irving’s star potential will compare him to Chris Paul. But aside from a brilliant first step and league best skill level, Paul’s sense of timing, angles and overall vision give him a historical basketball IQ X factor. Irving cannot be assumed to have this after 7 college games. I am more inclined to compare his upside to Tony Parker‘s, who is one of the fastest players and best finishers in the league. Which is excellent. Any team would be lucky to draft a Tony Parker caliber PG. But this isn’t a superstar franchise changer.

It is much more reliable to judge players on what we know, which is their present set of tools and skills. Comparing Perry Jones III’s tools to Irving’s, I believe Jones has a higher chance of being an offensive mismatch and a higher chance of putting defenders in an ill equipped position, the mark of a star. Therefore I believe Perry Jones III should go #1 this draft if a team correctly believes this is one of their rare chances to get the all valuable superstar player which changes franchises for a decade.

Written by jr.

February 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm

One Response

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  1. Excellent post.

    Too many are sleeping on Perry Jones III. His freakish hops, athleticism, and speed evoke visions of a cross between shawn kemp and an extremely raw Kevin Durant. I predict that he will go top 3 in the draft, before Terrence Jones. He could even go first if Washington picks first, for example. I think his stock will rise above Irving’s as time advances, but unfortunately I think the raptors would take Kyrie anyway, sigh..


    February 17, 2011 at 1:10 am

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