Kevin Jones' Viability as an NBA Player

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Here's a little bit of a mini Training Camp Battle from me on Kevin Jones and his viability as an NBA player.

Jones is an interesting case. He led the Big East in both scoring and rebounding last year while leading West Virginia to the NCAA tournament. A consensus 2nd-team All-American, Jones became the first person to lead the Big East in both categories since Luke Harangody did it in 2008. At 6'7," he is an undersized power forward. While his 7'1.5" wingspan and high energy level help to make up for the lack of height, he is still a below-the-rim player with average leaping ability.

Even though he has his limitations, it was somewhat surprising that Jones went undrafted as rumors abounded before the draft that he had a team promise to use their first-round pick to select him. Whether this was a ploy from his agent (his brother) or a team's unfulfilled guarantee, the promise never materialized and he was left without a team on June 28.. The Cavaliers then made an agreement with his agent to sign him prior to the Summer League, which Jones couldn't play in due to an injured foot. The signing finally officially came to fruition on September 10, with Jones apparently receiving a partial guarantee on a two-year deal with a team option for a third. There is a lot to like about the signing, but there are definitely some pitfalls that could befall Jones in his attempt to make the Cavs.

We pretty much know what kind of player he is from his time with West Virginia. Offensively, he's still a guy with good touch from the short midrange, but still doesn't have much of a longer midrange game. His three-point percentage decreased each of his final three seasons in college, from 40.1% to 26.6%. What's more troubling is that he still hasn't figured out that this wasn't a strong point of his game, as he shot nearly four threes-per-game his senior season. Additionally his offensive ability, even with his great touch in close, is going to be limited around the rim because of his lack of height and explosiveness. Developing a consistent 15-18 footer is going to be essential for his NBA success.

His most NBA-ready skill is his offensive rebounding ability. Offensive rebounding is something that tends to translate pretty well to the NBA, and Jones was third in the NCAA with 4.3 offensive rebounds per game according to DraftExpress' database. His long arms and strong positional sense help compensate for his fairly below-average athleticism in this regard. What's more, he tended to convert at a high rate after corralling offensive rebounds due to his soft touch around the hoop. Also, he improved his defensive rebounding immensely between his junior and senior seasons, accounting for 28.6% of his team's defensive rebounds. His success in the NBA is going to be largely dependent upon his rebounding ability continuing to be effective.

Jones seemed to be a functional defensive player but certainly not a standout at West Virginia. I believe that his lack of athleticism and size is going to cause him to be a "tweener" defensively. I don't think he's going to be able to guard power forwards due to size and I don't think he's going to be able to guard small forwards due to a lack of lateral quickness. He is built like at truck in his upper body, but his lower body strength leaves something to be desired, therefore I think it can be expected that he will be pushed around a little bit on the block. Lower-body strength is something he will need to continue to try to develop.

If you haven't been able to tell yet, I'm pretty skeptical about Jones' ability to stick at the NBA level. I cannot stress enough how much I think the development of a consistent 15-18 foot jumper is essential to his NBA career. I never understood the talk pre-draft of him being called a "stretch-4" because he hasn't shot well from the collegiate three-point line in either of the last two seasons. If he can develop range out to about 18 feet, I think that a Udonis Haslem-like career is possible. Outside of that I just don't see it with Jones. In his first game action with the Cavaliers in their preseason game against the Bucks, Jones recorded an impressive and well-earned five trillion. I can honestly say that I did not notice him on the court at all in his five minutes. In the other game he played this preseason, he played 13 minutes, didn't take a shot, and had five rebounds. To make this team, it seems he will have to do so based on his work in practice. Even if he does make this team, he seems to me to be Canton fodder until he gets a bit more confidence. Or at least enough confidence to take a shot in a preseason game.

My prediction is that he will be cut unless Scott reverses course on the three point guards. Otherwise I would keep Harangody's guaranteed contract because I just don't see what Jones brings that Harangody doesn't.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at FearTheSword

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