clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2014-2015 Cleveland Cavaliers Player Review: James Jones

No one expected James Jones to do anything this season. But things, he certainly did.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Called it.

Joking aside, James Jones played way above expectations this season, mainly because, well, he played. Jones played 57 games this season, after playing 57 in the previous two years combined. After basically being frozen in Carbonite for two years, Jones played regular minutes for the Cleveland Cavaliers and stayed healthy for the entire season at age 34. That's a feat in and of itself.

Jones was here to space the floor, and he did so by chucking threes at an astronomical rate. 87.1 percent of Jones's field goal attempts were threes this year, a number only Shane Battier (87.3 percent in 2012-2013) has eclipsed among players who have played at least 50 games in a season. Regardless of shooting percentage, this shot chart is glorious.

FIVE SHOTS AT THE RIM. Jones by now understands that he is here to stand 23 feet from the basket in a half circle and shoot the ball. Jones hit 36 percent from three this year, which makes sense if you watched him; acceptable, but nothing spectacular. But when that's all you do, 36 percent is effective enough, and Jones posted a 56.5 True Shooting percentage even though he shot 36.8 percent from the field. He did his one job well, and even had a few crazy games, like a December win over the Brooklyn Nets (12 points on 4-5 from 3), or Game 2 of the Chicago series (17 points, 5-9 from three).

Unfortunately, you can't say Jones was a huge help to the team overall. The Cavs really struggled defensively when he was on the floor, posting a 112.5 defensive rating with him on the court for the season, and a 110.8 defensive rating post-trade, so it wasn't just the first half's defensive issues. Jones did fine individually most nights, all things considered, and he made his fair share of hustle plays that were outright shocking. But he was most commonly a member of undersized units with Tristan Thompson at center where he was acting as the power forward defensively, and this was simply beyond Jones's capabilities. Too many times, Jones was asked to defend in the post or try and contain a bigger small forward, and the Cavs suffered, either because Jones would get destroyed, or because the team would have to jump through hoops to get Jones a matchup where he wasn't going to be an outright liability. Jones put in the effort, so you give him that, but the overall negative impact of having Jones on the floor was a problem.

Offensively, lineups with Jones were fine, especially when he shared the floor with one of the big three. He did not do this often, as he was often the go-to replacement for LeBron James or Kevin Love when they were hurt or resting, and spent a lot of time in garbage time lineups, too. When he shared the floor with any of LeBron, Love, or Kyrie Irving, the offense scored in the 108-110 points/100 possession range, per, but the drawback, again, was that any of these lineups were also just as bad defensively as they were good offensively.

Jones heads to unrestricted free agency this summer, and it would make sense for the Cavs to keep him. After all, he was on a ridiculously cheap contract last year - he made just $1.4 million this year - and could easily be had for a slight raise, and the Cavs wouldn't have to worry about cap juggling because they have his Bird rights and he can just take a similar deal. And as long as he can shoot, he'll have a place on the roster, even if that's just a Mike Miller-type role where he's playing less minutes and just coming in short spots to hit shots as matchups dictate. His veteran presence and experience with LeBron - and that's related to the fact that he's one of the senior members of the player's union playing with its vice president two years before a potential lockout - make him valuable to have around.

However, they can't rely on him as much as they did this year. He's a defensive liability, and that's not going to change as he gets older. You can play Jones, just not 15.6 minutes per game. In an ideal world, the Cavs will draft or trade for a wing who can defend the spots Jones was asked to, and use Jones and a guy like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson interchangeably depending on the situation. If Jones is your ninth man, you're in trouble; but if he has a reduced role, he's going to likely be effective in spots for this team next season.