Draft Profile: Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones

April 23rd, 2012 by Kevin Hetrick

This draft profile should be short.  It won’t be though, because I’m bad at brevity.  If the Cavs pick first, they select Anthony Davis.  Hopefully Cleveland doesn’t pick low enough to overly think about Terrence Jones, who is typically slotted 8th to 12th on draft boards.

Anthony Davis lives in Thomas Robinson's nightmares (Jeff Gross - Getty Images)

During his freshman year, Davis played the best season of NCAA basketball since at least Kevin Durant.  As the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for the 2012 Champions, following a season when he won every conceivable award, there is no debate over who the first pick in the NBA draft will be.  His accomplishments include:

  • Greatest freshman shot blocker in recent NCAA history at nearly five per game.
  • Thanks to 62% field goal shooting, 71% free throw shooting, and a ridiculously low turnover rate; his offensive rating of 133.6 points per 100 used possessions ranked fourth in the NCAA.
  • Grabbing 24% of available defensive rebounds ranked first in the SEC.

He’s 6’10” with a 7’4” wingspan, athletic and constantly working.  Having just turned 19 in March, even with a limited offensive arsenal, he is an absolute game changer.

Terrence Jones finished his sophomore year averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds per game on 55% true shooting.  He looks like an NBA player: 6’9” tall, 7’2” wingspan, 250 lbs, athletic & strong.  Best utilized as a face-up power forward, he skillfully puts the ball on the floor with his dominant left hand and attacks the paint.  He harnesses his athleticism on defense as an effective weak side shot blocker, rejecting almost two per game.  His biggest downfall is a propensity to disappear, as his effort can wane and maturity questions follow him.  An example of his inconsistency displayed itself during my look at MKG earlier this season; against Indiana in December, Jones finished with 4 points and 1 rebound while being repeatedly benched by John Calipari.  For a very big guy, he can overly rely on a “finesse” game.  His rebounding is average; for pace adjusted, per minute defensive rebounding, he ranks 72nd of 118 PF’s in draftexpress.com’s database.  Finally, he lacks refined back-to-the -basket moves and a reliable jumper (32% from three, 63% on free throws).

Terrence Jones finishes emphatically in UK's NCAA Finals victory (Jeff Gross - Getty Images)

For a deeper look, here are some game notes:

March 4th UK vs Florida – Davis finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks in this 74 – 59 Wildcat victory.  Yawn…

He completely controlled the paint and dominated the game.  Everyone understands that, so I’ll nit-pick.  His jump shot still warrants practice, as he was 1 of 4 on long twos and threes.  For the season, he shot 3 of 20 from outside the arc.  Also, he’ll benefit from trips to the weight room, as Patric Young moved him around pretty easily on a couple of possessions.

Jones scored UK’s first eight points of the game; three times facing up and driving, the other time corralling a putback.  He ended with 19 points on 71% true shooting, with three blocks & two steals, but only four rebounds.  Generating most of his offense off face-up drives, cuts & offensive rebounds; he was 1 of 2 both with his back to the basket and as a jump shooter.  None of his forays to the basket featured his weaker right hand.  Defensively, he blocked shots as a help defender, and also fought through two screens to reject a jump shot.  There were several poor defensive possessions too, though.  Lackadaisically jogging up court, Patric Young zipped by him in transition for an easy dunk.  Standing erect and not boxing out when a UF shot went up resulted in another easy Gator putback.

Finally, this applies to both players, but I don’t like how UK defends the pick-and-roll; their big men stay far from the pick, frequently resulting in both the ball-handler and roll man charging forward with a head of steam.  This was a fairly regular occurrence in both games.

NCAA Championship Game – UK vs Kansas – Davis netted 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 blocks and 3 steals as Kentucky cut down the nets in New Orleans.  Take those numbers in for a minute…

His activity level is great; when an opponent shot went up, he sealed his man off, grabbing rebounds at the top of his jump.  Fighting for position and keeping his arms vertical caused many tough looks for the Jayhawk bigs.  He stole a KU alley-oop and batted away an entry pass, forcing a steal.  As a shot blocker, he is a constant presence, lurking as KU players worked from the post or drove from the perimeter.  Thanks to his long arms and non-stop effort, he had a pivotal non-block, closing at the three point line near the end of regulation and forcing a travel.  Clearly thoughts of Davis worked through Thomas Robinson’s head, as he tossed up some very hasty shots.  Early this season, David Thorpe described Davis as (paraphrased) “a more athletic Marcus Camby with closer to Joakim Noah’s motor”.  Davis is bouncy, long, has great timing, moves well…NBA DPOY awards could loom in his future.  On the downside, he only shot 1 of 10 this game, including a sloppy isolation possession and an awkward post move.  I think people got over that.

Jones scored 9 points on 57% true shooting with 7 rebounds in 29 minutes.  His two blocks included a spectacular chase down, and he made a pivotal play with one minute to go; collecting an errant UK pass just before it went out of bounds, dribbling into the paint from thirty feet, and finding Anthony Davis at the basket.  From there; Kentucky only had to make their freebies to finish the game out.  The biggest downside to Jones’ performance was that Thomas Robinson played remarkably more physically, constantly establishing very deep post position and getting close range shots off.  Jones will need to play tougher, as Anthony Davis won’t have his back in the NBA.

Summary: Davis dominated the NCAA in a rarely exhibited way.  The scary thing is, he can get a lot better.  His shooting range is still unreliable, his back-to-the-basket game is raw, he’s too skinny…if he never improves on any of this; he’ll still be a low-usage, high-efficiency center that dominates one end of the court.   With strides in his offensive game and a little more muscle on his frame; could he win an MVP?

ESPN often compares Terrence Jones to Lamar Odom, describing how valuable he can be when engaged, but “let him roam and he can disappear”.  This is an apt comparison, as my initial take on a career arc for Jones looks similar to Odom.  Jones seems like a player that will bounce around as a good player on forgettable NBA teams.  Then after several years, older and wiser, he will pop up as the fourth best player on an NBA champion.  Finally, for an encore, maybe he’ll marry one of the younger “Kardashians”.

Clearly, I hope that Anthony Davis dons a wine-and-gold hat on June 28th.  When I sleep at night, Sportscenter quality alley-oops from Irving to “the Brow” dance through my head.