“Blerrrggh!” -Perry Jones III
Yahoo! sports writer Marc J. Spears has taken a long, hard look at this year’s upcoming NBA draft and decided that one big man simply has more talent than the rest. That’s right, Spears tabbed Perry Jones III as the most talented prospect this year. Wait, what?! According to Spears:
There may not have been a college basketball player last season, including Kentucky’s heralded big man Anthony Davis, who had a better combination of skills, athleticism, versatility and size than the Baylor University forward. Jones, who is 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, can dribble, shoot from long range, post up, pass and rebound. He can play small forward, power forward and even some shooting guard. That Jones didn’t show up for the Bears on a nightly basis, the main reason why he is projected as a top-10 pick and not top overall.
The article in no way is disrespectful toward Anthony Davis, in fact regarding him as the standard for talent last year by whom all other players (including Jones) should measure themselves. But to say that Jones could have been a better player than Anthony, if only he’d tried, is really just crazy talk.
I said all through last season that Baylor was the second- or third-most talented team in the league, behind Kentucky and probably UNC. Jones, Quincy Miller, Quincy Acy, and Deuce Bello are athletic freaks that can dominate games on size and speed alone. So don’t get me wrong: I think Perry Jones is a phenomenal player, and one that could be very good in the NBA if he decides to show up game-in and game-out. I just disagree with the favorable comparison to Davis.
In their matchup last season, what Spears calls going “toe-to-toe,” Jones had a good, aggressive game, but still came up short against Davis. PJIII finished with 17 and 8 on 6-14 shooting, to go alongside four turnovers, two assists, and zero blocks. Anthony, meanwhile, got 18 points on only nine shots, which went nicely with 11 rebounds, six blocks, one assist, and zero turnovers. Although Jones was competitive, I wouldn’t exactly call that “toe-to-toe.” Davis was clearly the better player, and had a substantially, and quantifiably better performance.
In my mind, that matchup is comparable to the year before last when the Cats beat the heavily favored Buckeyes. Josh Harrellson and Jared Sullinger were the premier frontcourt matchup in the Sweet Sixteen, and one was clearly expected to do bigger things. Sully came out on top, but the margin was closer than most expected (21/16, compared to Harrellson’s 17/10). You could say that Josh held his own, and did well. Honestly, he had a brilliant game, and gave us the definitive highlight for the year (the ole’ “fastball special”). But clearly Sullinger was better in that game, and very likely better overall. We were just proud of our guy for holding his own against a National Player of the Year candidate.
I think that’s very similar to the case at hand: Perry Jones is great, but the fact that people are impressed that he did better against Davis than people expected, and still came up short, is a pretty clear indication that he simply isn’t as good. He may have had more promise going into the season, and he may, to some minds, have a slightly higher ceiling (though I disagree), but he’s had plenty of chances to show his ability, and has underperformed each time. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result; believing that Jones could be a better pro than Davis is therefore, in my mind, completely bonkers.
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