6'2", 185 lbs, 19 years old
Point Guard, Duke University
2014/2015 stats: 11.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 41.7 FG%, 37.9 3P%, 88.9 FT%
Mock draft positions: ESPN- 18 DraftExpress- 21 Sports Illustrated- 20 CBS Sports- 18
Suns fans are already angry at the thought of selecting another point guard, but what about a point guard that has some of the same qualities that Kendall Marshall and Tyler Ennis had? Wait.... Where are you going.... Come back! He went to Duke! Coach K! National Championship!
Tyus Jones may not be what Suns fans want, but he's definitely what some NBA teams want. Jones is a natural leader who led Duke to a national championship as a freshman. While you were drooling over Jahlil Okafor's footwork and Justise Winslow's lateral quickness, Jones continued to lead and continued to win. He's only 6'2" and 185 lbs, but he's winning over more and more teams as we get closer to June 25.
Jones is what you want from your point guard when it comes to leadership. He's a floor general who steps up when his team needs him the most. Jones' three highest scoring games in the NCAA Tournament were in Duke's three closest games. That includes his 23 points in the national championship win over Wisconsin. Jones averaged 11.8 PPG this season, but his average spiked to 16.1 PPG against ranked opponents.
Jones was one of the biggest winners at the combine despite his measurements because of the interviews. Here's a quote from Chad Ford's latest evaluation on Jones:
Jones walks away with the award for most impressive interviews at the combine. Every team that spoke with him came away with a crush. "He's such a confident leader," one GM said. "He's all about winning and accountability. It's hard not to love guys like that. Especially when they see the floor as well as he does and win like he does."
Everyone who throws up at player descriptors like "tough", "gritty", and "winner" might as well stop reading because that's what you can use for Jones. He is a true point guard who makes all the basic plays look really easy.
Basketball IQ and Playmaking
Jones makes his money with how well he sees the floor. He picked up on how to read the other four defenders on the floor and he uses his intelligence in a very advantageous way.
Jones does that with his tremendous passing to hit his teammates in virtually any kind of way. Sometimes you see guards hesitate for a second on a correct read because they're not sure if they can make the pass and guys like Jones are already running back on defense after an assist when it comes to situations like that. He has a combination of knowing where everyone is on the floor at all times and being able to pass the ball the microsecond he sees someone open. Jones is the type of player that makes you look really stupid as a defender if you try to outsmart him and gamble.
Jones showed at Duke that he can excel in the pick and roll and his profile as an athlete shouldn't deter you from his ability to create with ball screens. His passing ability allows him to hit the role man at basically any angle or hit the shooters in the corner. The lack of hesitation he shows as a passer goes through on his shooting.
If you are daring Jones to shoot on threes or the midrange he will take it before you can even change your mind. Jones shot 38% from three in his freshman year and continued to knockdown midrange jumpers. As the end of the Strengths video by DraftExpress showed, his ability to score was further exemplified in big moments. He loves it.
Athleticism and Potential
This is where the car comes to a screeching halt and barely avoids a crash. I already brought up Jones' size and he doesn't make up for it with athleticism. He's not explosive or particularly quick and that's going to give him extra challenges in the NBA. He's going to struggle finishing at the rim, shooting over length, and especially as a defender.
The worst part of Jones as a defender is that he's not necessarily locked in when he needs to be at all times to not be a detriment to his team. He struggled staying in front of his man and screens would make him obsolete on a consistent basis. Even if Jones tightens up on D and gets his effort where it needs to be, his size and average first step will trouble him his entire career.
That last sentence translates to Jones potential. What you saw at Duke is what you are going to get. There's not many more places he can grow on offense with his athleticism where it is. His biggest chance for growth is on defense, but like I said that will only get him so far.
I'm in on Jones. There's too many things he does well as a point guard to fail. He's going to struggle defensively and will scare GM's with his size, but he looks like he will be a good backup PG while we figure out how good he can truly be. His shooting is the best trait for his stock to stay where it is and all those point guard-isms will have teams head over heels like Ford said.
Fit In Phoenix Suns
This is an intriguing call to make. Jones should be a great backup point guard at the next level and the Suns need one of those. However, what they don't need is another player that struggles on defense or projects to. Jones is projected to go in the late 10's and early 20's, so if the Suns are really really not sold on any of the big men in the #13 range I would not oppose a trade back scenario built around selecting Jones. It's too tough for a team without a natural point guard to pass on one in that hypothetical situation.