Some guys put up big numbers because, well, they’re superstars. Other guys put up big numbers because they get all the opportunity in the world. Then, there are guys like Terrence Jones, who are in such a beneficial position that they can’t help but put up quality numbers on a regular basis. Playing next to Dwight Howard and James Harden has opened up the court for Jones so much, he might just be the luckiest man in the NBA.
For games played in January (seven contests), Jones is averaging 16.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He’s shooting 53.3 percent from the field during that time. Those kinds of numbers would lead you to believe he’s one of the best power forwards in the entire league. Let’s take a look at the list of players who are averaging at least 16 points, 11 rebounds and a block for the year:
Yep, there’s his teammate, along with MVP candidate LaMarcus Aldridge and do-it-all big man DeMarcus Cousins. Does Jones and his skill set fit in with these guys? Of course not, but that’s the point. By the end of the season, it wouldn’t be crazy to have Jones averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and a block. Still, he’ll fit more into the stat-stuffer category than anything else.
SOME ADVANCED METRICS
82games.com paints Jones as an offensive player that is somewhat of a defensive liability (not far from the truth). In fact, when Jones is on the court, the Rockets score 113.5 points per-100 possessions and allow 109.4. When Jones sits down, they score 108.7 and allow 104.1. They score (and allow) more when Jones is there and score (and allow) less when he’s not. The net difference is .5 points, which isn’t monumental.
As an individual, Jones plays his most minutes at power forward, with Howard by his side. He posts an 18.2 PER at power forward per-48 minutes, while his opposition puts up a 17.4. Again, not a huge difference, but certainly not numbers that scream “star” one way or another.
THE DWIGHT EFFECT
Long ago, I talked about the Dwight effect and how other players become more effective just by being on the court with him. Nowhere is this more true than on the glass for a guy like Jones. Howard is one of the premiere rebounders in the history of basketball. For that reason, opponents ALWAYS keep a body on him. Whereas some bigs can double off of their man, Dwight’s defender is stuck to him like glue. Not only does that help James Harden and his driving ability, it also helps Jones by lessening the competition for rebounds.
In addition, although Howard isn’t an elite offensive player, he still holds his man. This gives Jones a lot of room to move around in the paint without fear of a double coming over quickly. A remarkable 163 of his 187 shots (87.1 percent) are taken in the paint. I don’t want to go so far as to say he should be nicknamed “The Garbage Man,” but he’s also not exactly a one-on-one maestro who wows all of us with his offensive artistry.
GOOD, NOT GREAT, DON’T FOOL YOURSELF
Jones is a solid role player. He’s not an All-Star and he wouldn’t be putting up these kinds of numbers on other teams. That’s not to take anything away from him — he’s making the most of his opportunities and if it weren’t for Omer Asik and his surly attitude, Jones wouldn’t have gotten much of a chance.
We should applaud Jones for what he’s doing and encourage him to continue. But, buyer beware on this one. Put him on another team without two elite players and see what happens to his production.
Michael Dunlap covers Arizona sports (Suns, Diamondbacks, Coyotes, Cardinals) at Big4Sports.com. He is an NBA credentialed writer who is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the Sports Illustrated/Fansided NBA site HoopsHabit.com. He also covers high school sports for The Arizona Republic. Follow me on Twitter @DunlapNBA.