There’s a multiverse dimension out there where the original Kristaps Porzingis trade to the Boston Celtics went through. In that reality, the Washington Wizards would have ended up with a haul of Marcus Morris, Amir Coffey, and the 30th overall pick that turned into Missouri’s Kobe Brown.
Instead, on our version of Earth, Tyus Jones is now D.C.’s projected starting point guard. We have Malcolm Brogdon’s nebulous injury status and the Clippers’ ensuing eleventh hour reversal to thank for that.
No matter how you feel about what the Wizards got for Porzingis, acquiring Jones is a definite win when compared to the alternative. But what exactly can the ‘Zards expect from their new point guard?
The Tale of the Tape
Jones is entering his ninth season in the NBA and is coming off his most productive campaign yet.
Thanks to a rather, let’s say, tumultuous season for Ja Morant, Jones was given more run than ever before. His 2022-23 season yielded per-game career highs across the board in minutes played (24.3), points (10.3), assists (5.2), and made three-pointers (1.5).
The 27-year-old has also been sneaky efficient for his size. He shot 44.4% from the field over the last two seasons, which is fairly solid for a guy whose physical profile (6’0.5” with a 6’5” wingspan) closely resembles Trae Young. Jones has also turned himself into an above-average three-point threat at 37.9% in that span.
The Biggest Strength
If there’s one thing Jones is known for, it’s his sheer dominance over one particular stat: assist-to-turnover ratio. Tyus is to that stat as Stephen Curry is to three-pointers.
Jones has led the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio for five straight seasons. In 2021-22, the gap between first-place Jones (7.04) and second-place Chris Paul (4.59) was wider than that of CP3 and 91st-place Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2.15). The man has yet to average a full turnover per game in his entire career.
It may not be the most impactful statistic, but it at the very least points to the stability he can offer at the point guard spot while the rest of the roster is in flux. Having a veteran floor general like Jones who rarely makes mistakes could potentially be a huge boon as Wes Unseld Jr. experiments with the Wizards’ fledgling pieces at other positions.
The Wizards aren’t going to be a scoring juggernaut, but I personally feel much better about how our offense is going to flow with him directing traffic rather than just handing the keys to Jordan Poole and letting him rev the engine. After all, development — not points or wins — is the goal this season.
The Glass Half-Full Perspective
Jones has long been considered one of the best backup point guards in the NBA. It remains to be seen whether there’s a next level to his game he can still unlock if given the chance to become a full-time starter.
Tyus Jones continues to show his value as a starting point guard. In complete control of the game. Has become an excellent shooter—52.8% from the corner & 39.7% on pull-up 3s—a sick foster game, tough screen manipulation, and a pace pusher in transition. Elite backup PG pic.twitter.com/8rcKjieW79— NBA University (@NBA_University) March 10, 2023
We’ve seen mixed results from the Reggie Jacksons and Eric Bledsoes of the world in the past. However, looking at Jones’ starter/reserve splits from last season at least gives some reason for optimism.
Reserve (58 games, 20.8 mpg)
8.0 PPG | 1.9 RPG | 4.1 APG | 39.7 FG% | 35.0 3PT% | 0.7 Stl | 0.7 TO
Starter (22 games, 33.2 mpg)
16.4 PPG | 4.0 RPG | 8.1 APG | 50.0 FG% | 41.5 3PT% | 1.8 Stl | 1.5 TO
It’s not the largest sample size, but Jones managed to elevate most aspects of his game whenever he was plugged into the starting unit in Memphis. The night and day difference in efficiency with increased usage is also a welcome sight.
Jones’ splits from the 2021-22 season aren’t as drastic, but show a similar penchant for playing up to the starting role. At the very least, he’s worth taking a flier on your fantasy team to see if he can replicate that success in Washington.
Anybody hoping Jones is the long-term answer at point guard shouldn’t hold their breath. But if Wizards fans temper their expectations — something that should come naturally for us at this point — Jones could be the perfect stopgap PG.
Jones is just entering his prime and will be very motivated to ball out in a contract year. The likely ceiling is that he plays well enough for a contender to pony up a late first-rounder for him at the deadline. The floor is that he gives the team steady, if unspectacular point guard play before we draft or acquire his eventual replacement.
The fun, unrealistic ceiling is that he has a Jalen Brunson-esque rise after finally being given the chance to escape Ja Morant’s shadow.
The best thing about the offseason is that every outcome remains alive until proven otherwise.