Mason Jones, Guard, University of Arkansas
- 2019-2020 Season Stats: 31 games played, 33.9 minutes per game, 22.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 45.3% shooting overall (35.1% from three), 82.6% free throw shooting
- ADVANCED STATS STRENGTHS: 27.3 PER, .231 win shares per 40 minutes, .668 free throw rate
- ADVANCED STATS WEAKNESSES: 31.6% usage, near 1:1 assist to turnover ratio
- CURRENT BIG BOARD RANKINGS: ESPN (70th), CBS (56th)
- ACCOLADES: 2019-2020 1st Team All-SEC
Mason Jones is as elite a scorer as there is in this draft class. Very rarely is a player capable of putting the ball in the bucket in so many different ways, and his understanding of body control and drawing fouls at the rim is advanced for his age. He can hit threes. He can create for himself and for others off the dribble. He can finish at the basket. He hung 40 points on Auburn, 37 on Tennessee, and averaged 23.6 points per game on 43.7% shooting in conference play. He is, quite literally a bucket.
So why isn’t he on the Tankathon.com list of 68 prospects? Why isn’t he dissected on The Ringer’s top-50? How come even CBS, who likes Mason best, only ranking him as a late 2nd round selection?
And should it matter...because Memphis needs a scorer. And Mason Jones is, in fact, a scorer. Do the Grizzlies need Mason Jones at #40?
What he does well
I have already written about Mason for GBB! Here are some highlights from a mock draft I did a month ago-
...He is capable of extremely efficient scoring, including a James Harden-esque ability at the college level to get to the free throw line. Averaging nine free throw attempts per game, Jones has the capacity to use his handle and body positioning to score in almost every way possible...
He shines in almost every advanced offensive statistical category - something this front office has shown a propensity to keep an eye on. He was 2nd in the SEC in win shares per 40 minutes according to sports-reference.com, 1st in points produced, 1st in offensive box plus/minus...the list goes on and on with regard to how he impacts the game offensively.
But after watching more film of Jones, what really stands out is his ability to handle the basketball. He is capable of getting space between himself and the defender with a litany of moves and stutter step/hesitation dribble drives. He was simply light years ahead in terms of his offensive set of tools compared to the competition in the SEC, and the numbers back that up.
Where he needs to improve
Part of the hesitance of Mason Jones’ draft status is his defense...and the fact that advanced number love him defensively as well despite the eye test telling you he struggles mightily on that end of the floor puts fear in his offensive production. Jones was 16th in the SEC in defensive box plus/minus, 1st in defensive win shares, and 8th in the SEC in defensive rating!
Still, as I wrote last month...
...he struggles with keeping perimeter players in front of him. Perhaps worse than the lack of lateral quickness is the fact that when you watch him play he doesn’t seem particularly concerned that he gets roasted defensively on a consistent basis. He simply lacks the discipline it takes to compensate for his limitations agility wise on the defensive end...
His age (22) and his offensive inconsistency at times (shot worse against SEC competition with almost 3 turnovers per game) combined with his defensive lapses have him almost universally on the outside looking in of the 2020 NBA Draft.
The fit and verdict
In theory? Mason Jones is quite literally exactly what the Grizzlies need. He’s a scorer. He’s a creator. He’s capable of helping others get their shot as well as him. Memphis could use all the offensive talent they can get, and it is extremely likely Jones is there at #40.
The thing about Jones is how he is not perceived highly despite the numbers. The SEC is not the best basketball conference on the planet, and he struggled at times against competition he should’ve more consistently lit up. The gaps that may be present in his night in and night out offensive firepower might not be able to overcome the massive deficits he likely will face defensively at the professional level.
The ability to score is there, though. And in this writer’s opinion it is worth buying in to. If I ran the Grizzlies, and Mason Jones falls past #50 in this draft, I would be on the phone with teams trying to buy or trade in to the end of the festivities to bring him to Memphis. In a perfect situation? He’s on a two-way contract and putting on shows for the Hustle in Southaven with a night of the draft signing a la’ John Konchar.
But if it’s clear he will indeed get drafted? I’d pursue a 2nd 2nd round pick. But he shouldn’t be the pick at #40.