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Insider

Perry Jones III: Boom or bust?

4/9/2012

Is Perry Jones III going to be a superstar or a dud? That's the question many NBA GMs are pondering right now.

Given his A-plus talent and C-minus motor ... your guess is as good as any.

His draft stock has been falling all year as fed-up scouts and GMs feel that he's out of excuses.

But there is an interesting subtext to the Jones debate. Are we looking at his game the wrong way? Maybe the reason he struggles to dominate is because he's being asked to play out of position.

"He really has the game of a 2-guard or a small forward," one respected NBA GM told ESPN.com. "Baylor used him as a center for the past two years, so you rarely got to see him comfortable. It's like, what if UConn had tried to play Rudy Gay at the 5? I think people would've had a very different opinion of him on draft night."

Jones has frustrated scouts since his high school days. He's always had the requisite size, length and athleticism to be an NBA stud. He also has had a fairly advanced perimeter game for a while. He can handle the ball and break guys down off the dribble and has a solid jump shot. He has always been the team's most willing passer. Had Scott Drew let him run the point, would things have been different?

Scouts have focused on Jones' perceived lack of toughness. He doesn't block shots. He shies away from contact. He floats a lot out on the perimeter. It's rare to see him aggressively take control in the paint. Those are all things that elite 4s do in college. But if he's a wing? The standard may be just a little bit different.

So what is he? I spoke with an NBA scout last year who had an interesting take. He said NBA scouts should quit trying to project what a player should be and focus on scouting a player based on what the player thinks he is.

"Players are who they think they are, not who you think they are," the scout said. "Perry Jones thinks like a point guard, not a big man. That's where his heart is. Embrace that and he's going to be amazing. Fight it and he could be a huge disappointment."

A year and a few months later and that's where we are. Draft Jones as a dominant 4 man who will defend, make a living in the paint and outwork the next guy and you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Let him play like Rudy Gay, give him the ball on the wing and let him create and he might just surprise you.

We currently have Jones ranked No. 9 on our Big Board and have him going No. 12 to the Milwaukee Bucks in our Lottery Mock Draft. Both of those numbers are probably close to his floor as an NBA prospect. If he has great workouts and if a team with the right system is drafting above that, Jones could go anywhere between 5 and 12 on draft night.