While scrolling aimlessly on Twitter, I decided to search for the video where Ja Morant yelled “TYUS STONES, YA HEAR ME!” So obviously, I search for tweets that say “Tyus Stones.” At the top of the results, I came across this fascinating tweet:
I was so curious about the backstory behind this. Did “Tyus Stones” really come from President Obama?
While Barack Obama wasn’t necessarily the one that dubbed Tyus as “Tyus Stones,” his stellar play in the 2015 NCAA tournament led to the President referring to him as that nickname. From Tyus himself-
So it was originated when I was at Duke. And obviously once we won the national championship, I was the MOP (Most Outstanding Player), so the nickname really started going viral. I don’t know if he knew about it already, or did his homework before his speech for us at the White House, but [he] called me ‘Tyus Stones’ in his speech addressing us at the White House. And it was just kind of a crazy, crazy moment - like it’s President Obama. So it was amazing.
Pause: Having President Obama refer to you as your nickname has to be the ultimate flex.
Over the past several months, we’ve seen the “Tyus Stones” that President Obama talked up in 2015 find his groove for the Memphis Grizzlies. After a rough start to the season Jones has rekindled his shooting touch from his days at Duke, which has played a huge role into his career year. His field goal percentage (46.3%) and three-point percentage (38.3%) are the best of his career, even with an increased volume — as his attempts per 36 minutes are the highest it’s ever been. His scoring (7.4) is at a career-high, and he’s still distributing the ball at an extraordinary rate, as he’s averaging 4.4 assists per game — also tied for 9th in assists per 100 possessions at 10.9.
Since December 1st, Jones is also shooting 44.6% from 3 on 2.0 attempts per game, and his hot shooting has bolstered his confidence and helped transform this bench into one of the league’s best second units.
This system has unlocked Tyus Jones as a dynamic playmaker that could also blast 3’s from the second unit.
In the process, we’re getting the full “Tyus Stones” experience.
The system Coach Taylor Jenkins has ignited the confidence of each player to let it fly from deep, particularly in Tyus Jones. The 5-year veteran point guard gave all the credit to coach, when talking about his confidence in letting it fly:
It gives me tremendous confidence, and that’s due to coach and my teammates to make just any play. Coach was on me from the second I got here — honestly, late summer — to shoot and not be afraid to let them go, let them rip… and, to trust myself. He knew I was a great shooter … and to not think about it. If you miss a couple, who cares? So what? I think finally playing with that freedom, finally playing with that confidence, and that’s due from coach.
The confidence and freedom in his shot impacts other facets of the game as well. As a point guard, it unlocks so many possibilities. No matter what looks defenses may throw at you, you can find your shot from deep, create something at the rim, or drive and kick out to an open teammate. For Jones, that’s the majority of his offense. He’s the 3rd-most frequent driver on the team, second behind Ja Morant in most passing, assist categories, and the best catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter on the roster. All of this is a byproduct of his shot catching fire, as there’s a belief he could create regardless of the looks the defense gives him.
“Whether it’s the 3, whether it’s getting into the paint and shooting that floater, whether it’s just driving to make a play for my teammate, they put a lot of confidence in me to just make the right play and to just play basketball,” Jones said. “I feel like I’m finally doing that again.”
Jenkins empowering Jones has allowed him to quarterback the second unit, without any worries of being pulled for a mistake, and the Grizzlies are reaping the benefits.
Since December 9th, the Grizzlies’ bench is 6th in points (42.9), 1st in field goal percentage, 1st in assists (12.2), and 1st in steals (4.2).
That production is likely not replicated without Jones.
A big part of the system that’s enhanced Jones’ play is sharing the floor with multiple playmakers. At all times, he’s on the floor with De’Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, Dillon Brooks, or Jonas Valanciunas — all decent-to-good playmakers for their positions. In addition, he’s been sharing more time with Ja Morant more often, as the Grizzlies have been a tad short on depth.
In the process, it allows Jones to function as a catch-and-shoot player more often, where he can relocate to his sweet spots from deep after passing to a secondary playmaker. Jones credited his teammates, and playmakers such as Morant, Anderson, and Melton, for finding his rhythm and letting it fly.
“For sure,” when asked if it helps his overall game playing with secondary playmakers. “It definitely helps, and yeah they do a great job of finding me as well. It’s not just me having to create my shot all the time. There’s plenty of times where it’s Ja creating for me, or De’Anthony, or Kyle, like you said. We do a great job of sharing the ball and being unselfish. It makes it easy when you just got to put the ball in the basket.”
Coach Jenkins’ system has empowered lots of players, whether it’s Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton, or Josh Jackson. From what we’ve seen thus far, Tyus Jones has become the best version of Tyus Stones.
As our very own Lauren Harvey discussed in yesterday’s article about Tyus Jones, there’s finally a backup point guard that Grizzlies fans in Memphis and around the globe can believe in.
So longer are the days where one would cringe and cripple into panic whenever a backup point guard would spell Mike Conley for even 4-5 minute stretches. Or the days of having to play musical chairs with backup point guards on a seasonal basis.
The Memphis Grizzlies have their backup point guard, and he could very well be one of the best at what he does. What’s even crazier? He’s only 23 years old, so he’s not even in his prime yet.
Tyus Stones — as President Obama would refer to him as — has been getting buckets and dropping dimes for this #GrzNxtGen team. With the sample size given thus far, things probably aren’t changing anytime soon.