There are just a few short months before the NBA Draft begins, which means it is time to evaluate several college players. One of the best two-way guards in the nation is Duke Blue Devil sophomore Tre Jones.
Tre Jones was part of the most heralded recruiting class in college basketball history last season. Jones was the star guard of a group that included Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish. The brother of Memphis Grizzlies guard, Tyus Jones, decided to return to school this season after being projected as a mid to late first round pick.
Jones averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.8 rebounds along with only 1.5 turnovers. His nearly five to one assist to turnover ratio was tops in the country and a record for freshmen.
This year, Jones increased his scoring average to 16.2 points along with 6.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds. Without Williamson, Barrett, and Reddish, these numbers are even more impressive. Jones has spent this year answering all questions about whether his success was due to that freshmen core or not.
Recently, Tre Jones was crowned ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He is also a finalist for the Bob Cousy Most Outstanding Point Guard award.
When discussing Tre Jones, the first two things that always come to mind are his defense and his basketball IQ. Jones is one of the best on-ball defenders in college basketball and wreaks havoc on opposing guards. Think Patrick Beverley. He will have an instant impact on the defensive end by disrupting the flow of opposing offenses.
In terms of basketball IQ, Jones is a great playmaker and understands basketball more than most. Look no further than his assist to turnover ratio for evidence. Jones sets his teammates up for success frequently and that will continue in the league. His brother, Tyus, led the league in assist to turnover ratio last year.
Finally, Jones has proven to be very clutch. While he is not a phenomenal shooter, his shooting percentages and free throw percentage in the clutch would suggest he is a lethal shooter. Jones is shooting well above 90 percent from the free throw line in close games with under two minutes to go. Obviously, when talking about being clutch, look no further than Jones’ 18 points in the last two minutes and overtime against North Carolina in a huge comeback victory.
Most of the concerns with Jones involve his shooting. Last season, he shot 26 percent from three which worried teams. This year, he has improved to 36 percent while taking nearly four threes per game. His true shooting ability is probably somewhere between those two numbers. Having to move back to NBA range will drop his average a bit and defenders will certainly dare him to shoot.
This season, Jones has turned the ball over more than usual. He is averaging 2.7 turnovers per game. Jones has great faith in his abilities to hit the open man, and rightfully so, but he can take some unnecessary risks, especially when forcing the issue. That has been more of an issue this year, due to Duke’s inconsistent play around him.
The only other real concern is Jones’ ability to finish in traffic and through contact. He has struggled against bigger defenders and dealing with length. That is something that is common for less athletic guards, so it is not too surprising. However, he will need to continue to evolve his finishing moves while in the NBA.
Tre Jones has a lot of young Rajon Rondo characteristics. Both are great playmakers and put teammates in positions to succeed. Both are also great defenders without being great athletes. Neither are great shooters but they can make an open jumper. Jones is a slightly better shooter and defender.
Mid- to late-first round pick. Jones solidified his status as a first-round pick after improving all of his offensive statistics. His brother has carved out a nice career as a backup point guard and Tre Jones should fill the same role. Most likely, Jones falls in the 15 to 25 range.
Embed from Getty Images