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Two NBA franchises seem like nice fits for Duke basketball great Tre Jones.
The 2020 NBA Draft, which should include a trio of Duke basketball names, is finally on the horizon after it was pushed back a second time due to COVID-19. The draft is still a little under a month and a half away (Nov. 18), but with the NBA playoffs coming to a close, most teams have their sights set on trying to navigate through a very difficult pre-draft process.
Tre Jones was the first from the 2019-20 Duke squad to commit to the draft after taking home ACC Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors. Where Jones could end up in the draft is still a bit of a mystery at this point. He is not a guy who will come in and turn around an NBA franchise and certainly does not have the upside as some other point guards in this year’s draft.
Like every other player in this draft, Jones has his limitations. But he also has certain qualities that give him an advantage over more talented guys at his position.
For example, Jones has the luxury of having a brother who already has five years of NBA experience. He also has experience playing with other star players, as he played alongside Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Vernon Carey Jr. in college.
Jones should enter the NBA with a good idea of the level of work, preparation, and focus it requires to have a lasting career. He should also have a good understanding of the role he needs to fulfill in order to get consistent playing time.
Jones does not need to shoot the ball a lot to be effective. Rather, he will bring in steady ballhandling and the ability to run an offense.
Of course, Jones should also be able to see court time due to his ability to defend. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Minnesota native was one of the best on-ball defenders in the country over the last two seasons. His ability to guard opposing point guards will be one of his biggest assets early on in his career.
Tre Jones needs to be on a team with a lot of scoring options and overall talent around him. Ideally, he would be best suited on a team that is in playoff or even championship contention right now.
I think we saw this past season how valuable a player like his brother is. Tyus Jones, who left Durham in 2015 after his one-and-done title campaign, never carved out a big role for himself with the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, he became a key part of the second unit for the Memphis Grizzlies this past season, a team that was in playoff contention the entire year.
Which teams could have ideal draft picks to land the Duke basketball guard?
Ideally, I think it would be best for Jones to go somewhere between the range of 20-26. Miami, Philadelphia, Denver, Utah, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, and Boston are the teams that are set to draft in that range. While trades could certainly alter this, these are all teams who have stable front offices and are currently in playoff position.
I believe Jones could be most effective in Philadelphia. He could come off the bench and take over ball-handling duties when Ben Simmons needs a break. He could also provide the Sixers with an excellent defensive pairing alongside Matisse Thybulle.
Plus, Jones has experience playing with good bigs, which would certainly be beneficial for Joel Embiid. I also believe Jones would be well equipped to handle the pressure of playing in a big market like Philadelphia, after occupying one of the most coveted positions in America: the point guard for Duke basketball.
ALSO READ: What made Tre Jones a great Duke point guard?
Another team in that range that could benefit greatly from having Tre Jones is the Utah Jazz. Utah struggled mightily trying to defend Jamal Murray during its opening-round playoff series. Not that Jones would be able to shut down Jamal Murray, but the West is loaded with star-level point guards.
Having a guy who can defend opposing point guards is almost a necessity in today’s NBA. Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley are already tasked with providing the bulk of the Jazz offense, which could allow for Jones to carve out a role with his defensive and playmaking abilities.
Jones will be best suited in a winning situation. If Jones has to come in and start playing 25 minutes a night while having to shoulder part of the offensive load, it could be tough for him to be most effective. He will still need some time to fully develop offensively.
Yet Tre Jones can help any NBA team right now with his ability to defend the ball, get into the lane, and make good decisions with the ball in his hands. He doesn’t have to be a star, but a player who makes winning plays and produces night in and night out.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on Tre Jones plus other news and views regarding all things Duke basketball.