Better Know a 2012 NBA Draft Pick: Perry Jones III

Mar 23, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Baylor Bears forward Perry Jones III (1) dunks the ball past Xavier Musketeers center Kenny Frease (32) inthe second half of the semifinals of the south region of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Editor's Note: The 2012 NBA Draft is just around the corner, and that means it's time to start looking at this year's prospects. We've enlisted the help of a couple of our community's top draftnicks to break down as many prospects as possible from this year's class, whether they're high-lottery picks, potential first-round sliders or sleepers that could make an impact on a team from the second round. Today: Baylor enigma Perry Jones III by pantslessyoda1.

PREVIOUSLY: Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Jared Sullinger, Terrence Jones.

Team: Baylor

Expected draft position: Mid Lottery

College career recap: Perry Jones came into Baylor as the number three recruit in the country, but largely disappointed during his two seasons as a Bear. Despite his advanced perimeter skills and tendency to shy away from contact, the Bears used him as a center due to his height and length. Jones was a solid but not particularly great player during his college career, with numbers that were more respectable than good and a reputation for lacking focus and intensity.

Basic Statistics Per 40 Minutes, Pace Adjusted (via Draft Express)

Year

GP

Min

Pts

FGA

FG%

2PtA

2P%

3PtA

3P%

FTA

FT%

Off

TOT

Asts

Stls

Blks

TOs

PFs

2010/11

30

33.9

16.4

11.6

54.9

11.2

56.1

0.4

20.0

5.4

66.4

3.1

8.4

1.4

0.6

1.1

2.7

2.8

2011/12

33

30.7

17.3

14.2

50.0

12.9

52.0

1.3

30.3

4.0

69.6

3.5

9.8

1.6

1.1

0.8

2.2

3.0

Best attributes: Perry Jones may very well be the most naturally gifted prospect since Kevin Durant. At 6'11 with a 7'2 wingspan, Jones has tremendous size for a perimeter player. He handles the ball like a guard, can step out to shoot a three pointer, and has tremendous coordination and fluidity, especially for his size. With his length and lateral quickness, he has the physical tools to be one of the best pick and roll defenders in the NBA. He has yet to put it all together and failed to dominate even in high school, but he has the physical abilities to be not just one of the top players in the draft but in the league.

Jones is also more productive than he's typically given credit for. In part because the bar was set so high for him, it's very easy to forget that he shot 55 percent from the floor his freshman year and averaged 17 and 10 per pace adjusted 40 minutes as a sophomore. No, he wasn't quite Kevin Durant, but is he really all that much worse than Harrison Barnes? Check out some of his similarity scores, too -- Luol Deng and Wilson Chandler were roughly as productive as him in college and they both turned out OK. Granted, you want more than Wilson Chandler from the third pick in the draft, but Jones is tall and long enough that his ceiling is actually far greater than either Deng or Chandler.

Biggest weakness: Simply put, as great as Perry Jones looks, both on the basketball court and in workouts, he has never dominated, even in terms of blocks, steals, and the other athletic indicators that raw prospects with upside tend to excel at. He might be considered a mild bust if he averaged 16, 10, and 5 assists a game in the NBA, and yet that's his stat line from his senior year of high school, so the argument that he only failed to produce because he was out of position is fairly flimsy one.

There have also been a lot of questions about Jones' heart and motor. While he played reasonably well at Baylor, a player with his talents could have produced a lot more, especially in terms of rebounds, blocks, steals, and other indicators of a player's motor. Although he drew a solid number of free throws, he didn't live at the line like he should have, which also speaks to his lack of intensity and aggressiveness.

Why he'd fit in D.C.: John Wall is a beast, but he's probably not good enough to win a title surrounded by a bunch of good but not great players. Perry Jones III could very well be a bust, but he's also one of the few players in the draft who has the potential to be elite. Plenty of players in this draft seem like they'll be stars, but most of them seem more like occasional all-stars a la Caron Butler or Latrell Sprewell than year in, year out stars. While a player of that caliber would help the Wizards, it's unlikely that anyone other than Jones has the potential to be the second best player on a team that wins a title.

Jones would also help the Wizards by providing perimeter scoring and floor spacing. His three point and free throw percentages have increased from year to year and his shot at least looks fairly good, so it's not inconceivable that he'd be able to become a solid three point shooter at the next level. He has the length to get shots off over small forwards and the quickness to get to the basket against power forwards, so he could become a match up nightmare and even the team's leading scorer if Wall focuses more on distributing than scoring as he gets older.

Why he might not: He's a project and the Wizards are in win-soon mode. While the team has the necessary depth to get by with Jones playing a limited role his first year, the organization seems to be looking to make a run for at least the 8th seed next year, so Jones might not get the playing time necessary to develop. He's also not a good enough shooter to punish defenses that clog the middle against Wall and the team's numerous interior scorers, which could hurt the team's offensive output.

Verdict: Pass ... but give him more of a chance than a lot of people want to. It's easy to get burned by high ceiling, low production players, but there's a reason team's draft them - a lot of the time, it's the only chance they'll have at getting a superstar outside of the top pick in the draft or signing a free agent if they're in an attractive enough market. Jones has received a lot of hate from fans of lottery teams since he seems like such a bust in the making, with everything that one can say about him applying to Yi Jianlian, Andray Blatche, Anthony Randolph, and plenty of other high ceiling players who didn't pan out, but he's farther along than people realize and there's a legitimate case to be made for him as at least a top five, maybe top three pick. Player's with his athletic abilities don't come along very often and with a little bit of luck, he could be a game changer.

The above chart matches Jones' true shooting percentage, assist percentage, and shot percentage throughout his last season. The key takeaway here is that there tends to be a positive correlation between his shot falling and his assertiveness on the offensive end - a good shooting game will lead to him creating not only more shots for himself, but also for his teammates. While it's obviously not good that he becomes more passive if his shot isn't falling, the flip side of this is that he has the demonstrated ability to take over games when he's engaged. It's unlikely he'll ever become a hustle player, but the right system and the right organization should be able to get him to be more assertive. With a core of solid character guys and John Wall being both the team's alpha dog as well as a distributor more than a scorer, the Wizards have as much of a chance of making sure he maximizes his potential as any team. Sure, it would be shooting for the moon, but a franchise that has never been able to attract top free agents might need to do just that if it ever wants to be more than just a pretty good team that loses in the second round each year.

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