Damian Jones: Just Happy To Be Here?

Damian Jones, Vanderbilt Junior: Age 21, 7’0″, 244 lbs., 37′ vertical – Drafted by the Warriors with the 3oth pick in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft

13.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Damian Jones is one of those guys.

He’s a legit 7-footer with unique athleticism and skills for someone his size; but, there are huge question marks about his motor, passion and aggressiveness.  If you were able to catch any games or film of Jones, and then look at his stats, there is no question why he leaves everyone asking for more. Jones has been compared to DeAndre Jordan, and I can say that the comparison is not a reach at all. Jones can finish just as well as DeAndre, and his highlights leave you thinking he can be great at this basketball playing thing:

Those highlights though! From his highlights alone, I thought when I went to check his season statistics that he would be a 20 ppg, and 10 rpg player, easily. But he’s not. Jones returned to school for his junior season after a good, but not great sophomore season, and put up terribly similar numbers:

Damian Jones Vanderbilt  Year G MPG FG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TO PF PPG
So (19) 2014-15 35 29.1 56.2% 59.9% 6.5 0.7 0.6 2 2.2 2.5 14.5
Junior (20) 2015-16 33 26.2 59% 53.6% 6.9 1.2 0.2 1.6 2 3.3 13.9

From Jones’ sophomore to junior year: In three less minutes a game he averaged .4 rpg more, increased his apg by .5, but saw declines in his bpg and ppg. He also increased his personal fouls by almost one more per game in the decreased time. Ouch. Jones was a borderline first round pick after his sophomore year, and granted he was still a first round pick this year, he did nothing to dispel the talk about whether or not he is committed to improving his game and being a great NBA player.

I believe I saw Jones play once or twice in his college career, and that says something in itself, he was such a low-impact player that I can’t remember the amount of times I saw him play. The NBA is littered with stories of big men with not enough passion to reach superstar status, but they are continually high draft picks because of the potential for more. Jones is walking that same fine line. In his defense, Andre Drummond had similar questions coming out of UConn after his freshman year in 2012 (10 ppg, 7.6 rpg). Centers can beat the odds, but it mostly comes down to what each individual wants their legacy to be: An all-time great center, or a potential-filled big that coasts and is given multiple contracts because of the potential within.

The Golden State Warriors are hoping they found their next great big man, but no one will know until we see year-to-year improvement from Jones, which he hasn’t had as of yet. The Warriors clearly have a need for a rim protector and franchise center, so if Damian Jones wants it bad enough, it is there for the taking.

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