After the trade deadline, the next highly anticipated personnel decision for Cleveland will come in June. At this point, it’s still difficult to gauge where the Cavs may pick. This week’s profile covers two talented youngsters from Baylor: Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller.
Now a 20 year old sophomore, Jones III has perplexed scouts since his high school days. At 14 points and 7.7 rebounds in 31 minutes per game, standing 6’11” with outstanding length and smooth athleticism, talent evaluators marvel at his potential. Whether running the floor on a coast-to-coast gallop for a layup, or using a quick first step for a dunk from a half-court set, his combination of size and skill presents an NBA-star sized ceiling. Offensively his speed and skills are a mismatch for power forwards, while his size can’t be matched by small forwards. Unfortunately though, with game-to-game outcomes all over the board, his performance and effort level frequently leave people wanting. Compared to his freshman year; his minutes, points and field goal percentage are all unimproved. For a player his size, he is a marginal rebounder and is struggling to get to the free throw line, notching only one freebie per four field goals attempts. His shooting could stand improvement, evidenced by 27% career three point shooting (54% true shooting). In February he didn’t hit a three and swatted only two shots, but in the Big Twelve tourney he was a beast, notching two double-doubles and tallying 22 points a game. These wild inconsistencies currently leave him 7th on ESPN’s board.
As Jones’ freshman teammate, Quincy Miller arrived at Baylor with high expectations. Prior to an ACL tear in December 2010, he drew comparisons to Kevin Durant. Miller is a 6’9″ small forward with long arms and silky athleticism. Since his injury, hopes for Miller have slightly faded but he did end his high school career as the 5th highest ranked player in his class and currently sits around 15th on most draft boards. Miller shows signs of a well rounded offensive game; making shots from deep, exhibiting ball-handling skills in isolation, and posting up smaller defenders. Offensively, he’s only Baylor’s 4th or 5th option, but has filled the role admirably. In 25 minutes per game, he averages 11 points on 55% true shooting (36% from three). While getting to the charity stripe at a solid rate, he makes the most of the opportunity by converting 81%. He needs to get stronger but rebounds acceptably for a small forward, grabbing 15.6% of available defensive rebounds, nearly on par with Kidd-Gilchrist (16.4%) and better than the confounding Andre Drummond (15.4%).
Notes from recent games include:
- 01/28 against Texas
With 22 points, 14 rebounds & 3 assists, this was Perry Jones’ best game of the regular season. Jones showcased the whole array of skills; taking defensive rebounds coast to coast, posting up smaller players, finishing alley-oops high above the rim, threading passes from the high post, knocking down jumpers…an effort like this from a near 7 footer, explains why at different points in his career he’s been viewed as a potential #1 pick. It is worth noting that Texas as a team is prohibitively young and undersized. His defense around the basket appeared to be suspect, something backed up by his shot blocking numbers (9 in 17 Big Twelve games this year).
A fine game by Miller in this 76 – 71 Baylor victory; highlighted by 18 points on 58% true shooting. Generally his rebounding looked strong and his effort level adequate, he’s not opposed to getting on the floor for loose balls. Regularly staying aggressive, either putting the ball on the floor from the perimeter or establishing post position, lead to ten foul shots. Offensively, he flashed a diverse skill set, hitting a pull-up jumper and a set shot, while also finishing a nice drive with a spin move & short bank shot. In what will be a recurring theme, Baylor almost exclusively plays zone, so it is hard to gauge these two players defensive abilities.
02/08 against Kansas
While Texas was PJ3’s best effort, this game hit bottom. Five points, three rebounds and four fouls in 25 minutes represent a huge letdown in a game that could have helped stake his claim as a top five pick. Defensively, my notes are skewered with questionable possessions. His length caused occasional issues for KU, but as a whole highlights were scarce. Leading a coast to coast fast break and finishing it off with a sweet pass is about the extent of it.
No one will ever catch Quincy Miller reminiscing about this game. In 14 minutes, 3 points and 2 rebounds didn’t do much to keep KU from waltzing to a 68 – 54 win. He nailed one catch and shoot three, but missed another badly. On a couple of occasions, I noted sloppy ball handling and poor zone defensive rotations. He sat for most of the second half after picking up a flagrant – 1, based on a thrown elbow while boxing-out on a free thrown attempt. The announcer explained the referee told Baylor’s coach that he was trying to get Miller to play less physically all night. This seems odd considering Miller only had one foul on the game. I didn’t think the box-out was that violent; if anything the physicality endeared me to Miller’s play. The NBA is a man’s game, this aggressiveness will serve him well in the long run.
02/25 against Oklahoma
Battling foul trouble, Jones III notched 8 points on 35% true shooting with 6 rebounds in 22 minutes. Showing off his unique blend of talents early, his length allowed him to negate an OU fast break and also lead to two steals in the first ten minutes (one a deflection by him). His finishing skills lacked, but he featured right handed baby hooks and left-handed spin moves from the post, and attacked the basket from isolation sets. He also drew a charge, which is always nice to see. Close enough is only acceptable in horse shoes and hand grenades though, and PJ3 needs to make more of those pretty shots if he wants to move up draft boards.
Shooting poorly while getting to the free throw line nine times, QM finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds. The game began on a rough note, including a turnover on a post move and a fumbled entry pass on a different possession (no turnover). Generally he was aggressive in the first half, looking strong on the boards and attacking the basket; this was crucial, because his shot was off, including misses of two open threes (one air-ball). It was the same story in the second half; poor shooting mixed with commendable displays of aggression, on offense, defense, and on the boards. He displayed solid passing ability from a drive & dish perspective, but struggled passing out of double teams in the post.
Jones, like Andre Drummond, represents the ultimate of high-risk, high-reward draft day decisions. Can someone finally turn on his frequently non-revving motor?
As a mid-first round, relatively low-risk pick, Miller looks appealing. He’s young, has great size & the start of a diverse offensive game. A primary question is: will his high school knee injury be a recurring issue, or is what we’re seeing only the start of a promising career by a still-recovering player?
Through 6 players, my rankings are:
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Anthony Davis is by far the class of the 2012 group, and I also like Brad Beal better than MKG right now.
- Harrison Barnes – His scoring efficiency has been down significantly since February as he’s only making 41% of his field goals (50% true shooting over 12 games).
- Andre Drummond – Game to game, his numbers are wildly inconsistent. In three big East tourney games, he averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds. Right now, I can’t get over his 30% free throw shooting.
- Perry Jones – Surely you’re aware of NBA players who post a great March & April in their contract year, then sign a new deal only to return to their old ways. With a spectacular NCAA tournament on the heels of a huge Big 12 tourney, Jones could join that group and leap back into the top 5 picks.
- Jeremy Lamb – He’s playing a lot better than when I profiled him last month, with 19 points per game on 57% shooting since.
- Quincy Miller – His offensive rating and usage rate are comparable to his sophomore teammate (108.7 and 23.5 compared to 111.9 and 22.7), he’s 14 months younger, and I like his toughness. In the mid-first round, QM serves as stellar value.