Tre Jones has been one of the best defensive players and floor generals in college basketball over the past two seasons. In his first year at Duke, Jones was primarily a floor general and defensive stopper for a Duke team that ran their offense through Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Jones was solid for the Blue Devils, averaging a little over nine points and five assists per game, and only 1.5 turnovers a night. With both Williamson and Barrett in the NBA during Jones’ sophomore year, he was assigned to take on more of a scoring load. Jones improved his scoring from 9.3 PPG to 16.2 PPG, and even bumped up his three-point shooting to 36.1%. Jones has a puzzling ceiling on offense, though, as he lacks the aggression to search for his shot at times and is an inconsistent finisher around the cup. His improvement in the shooting department from year 1 to year 2 is promising, and he has the potential offensively to become a viable option off the bench.
Defensively, Jones is a pest, having averaged at least 1.8 steals per game over the past two seasons. Jones was one of the best on-ball defenders in college basketball due to incredible lateral quickness, and the ability to cut off opposing ball-handlers. There are question marks about Jones’ potential as an offensive threat, but I have much more confidence in his play on the other end of the floor. He makes the necessary energy plays for his team and communicates well as a team defender. My only question with his defensive is his versatility, primarily due to his small stature and length.
On-ball Defense – exceptional lateral ability and hands
IQ – Knows the game well, good defensive IQ and shot IQ. Runs the offense well
Intangibles/ Leadership – Great leadership qualities and character, winning culture, great team player Shooting Potential – good mechanics and balance on outside shots, showed steady improvement from year 1 to year 2
Ball Security/ Playmaking – doesn’t turn the ball over often, is strong with the ball and sets up teammates for scoring opportunities
Athleticism – athletic limitations include vertical pop and explosiveness
Assertiveness – often passive on offense, doesn’t search for his shot and is not aggressive
Defensive Versatility – lack of size/length may limit him to guarding just point guards
Finishing Ability – inconsistent finisher around the rim, fails to convert in finishes off PnRs
Best Landing Spot
Miami Heat. With Goran Dragic’s contract set to expire after the season, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat front office might want to make a move for a solid point guard in the draft who’s ready to play from Day 1 rather than develop for the next 4-5 years. The Heat are not necessarily in win-now mode, given their young core of Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson. But at age 31, Jimmy Butler, Miami’s best player, isn’t getting any younger. So the window to win and compete for a championship might be a lot smaller than it seems for the Heat. Butler has often been seen playing the point guard role this season, and the Heat lack much playmaking behind him. With Jones added to the mix, I like his intangibles within the Miami Heat culture and his ability to run the offense off the bench. The Heat already have a plethora of shooters and scorers on their roster, giving Jones the opportunity to play to his strengths as an on-ball defender and playmaker.
Worst Landing Spot
Dallas Mavericks. Jones’ game is nowhere close to the system Rick Carlisle has put into place in Dallas. The Mavericks are one of the top teams in the NBA in terms of pace, three-point attempts, and points per game. Jones is more of a methodical point guard who would flourish in a slower, defensive-oriented system. The Mavs are also stocked at guard with Luka Doncic, Trey Burke, and Jalen Brunson running the offense. Jones’ needs would be better suited elsewhere.
Draft Range: Late 1st to early 2nd round
Basketball IQ: 9. IQ is off the charts, especially on defense. Great individual defender and team defender, understands rotations well. He makes safe, smart decisions on offense, and gets shooters/scorers involved. Good shot IQ as well. Needs to work on PnR game, could have been a scheme problem at Duke though.
Shooting: 7. Improved shot mechanics and percentages from freshman to sophomore year, looks comfortable shooting from the outside. Has nice touch on runners in the paint. Needs to improve consistency from midrange in PnR situations and could improve efficiency from outside. Not a good finisher at the rim in PnR situations.
Passing: 6. Has good, not elite vision. Needs to improve play in the PnR, but makes excellent decisions in the open floor and finds teammates well on the break.
Dribbling: 7. Has a good handle for a point guard, great ball control in the halfcourt and in transition. He sometimes allows the defense to poke the ball loose from behind.
Hustle: 8. Good energy and effort on both ends, often seen diving for loose balls and rebounds vs bigger players.
Rebounding: 4. Rebounding is solid for his height and position but spends most of his time around the perimeter. Will dig and battle for rebounds.
Defense: 9. In my estimation, the best on-ball defender at his position in this draft class. Excellent lateral quickness, fluid hips, positions his body well, and stays low to the floor. Extremely quick hands lead to steals, doesn’t gamble on defense and plays the passing lanes well. Was often seen picking up guards full court the entire game during his time at Duke.
Leadership: 9. Defensive leader and game manager at the PG position. Great body language and interactions with teammates/coaches. Exceptional leadership qualities and intangibles
Athleticism: 5. Lack of explosiveness and vertical pop but has terrific lateral quickness.
Upside: 6. What you see is what you get with Jones. Won’t wow anyone with his athletic tools and explosiveness, but makes good decisions with the basketball, especially in transition. Should be a solid player off the bench.
Total Rating: 70 /100
Tre Jones NBA Comparison
It terms of playing style and stature, I like the comparisons between Jones and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. Both players are undersized, athletically challenged point guards who feed off their playmaking, defense, and outside shooting. In the right system, Jones could one day become an impact player much like VanVleet has been for the Raps, but for now, his offensive game is much more limited than VanVleet’s. Tre Jones’ game really gives me memories of NBA veteran Kirk Hinrich, who was never an All-Star-caliber player but could either fill in as a starter or come off the bench. Both players make the necessary energy plays for their teams, compete on defense, and hit the occasional shot.
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