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2020 NBA Draft Profiles: Tre Jones

It’d be so cool to see a Jones brothers reunion in Memphis.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Tre Jones, Guard, Duke University

  • 6’3” (6’4” wingspan), 185 lbs., 20 years old, from Apple Valley, Minneapolis
  • 2019-2020 season: 29 games played, 35.4 minutes per game, 16.2 points per game, 6.4 assists per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 1.8 steals per game, 42.3% field goal percentage (36.1% from three), 77.1% free throw shooter
  • Career: 65 games played, 34.7 minutes per game, 12.4 points per game, 5.8 assists per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, 1.8 steals per game, 41.9% field goal percentage (31.3% from three), 76.7% free throw shooter
  • ACCOLADES: 2019-2020 ACC Player of the Year, 2019-2020 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, 2019-20 All-ACC (1st Team), 2018-19 ACC All-Defense, 2018-19 ACC All-Freshman
  • ADVANCED STATS STRENGTHS (per Tankathon): Defensive Rating (94.6), Defensive Box Plus/Minus (+3.1), Assist/Turnover Ratio (2.37)
  • CURRENT BIG BOARD RANKINGS: 25th (Tankathon), 32nd (The Ringer), 35th (CBS Sports), 34rd (ESPN), 17th (The Athletic)

The Memphis Grizzlies are in a great point guard situation. Ja Morant looks the part of the a generational point guard, displaying a combination of electrifying athleticism, passing wizardry, and undeniable charisma. In addition, for the first time this decade, the Grizzlies have a great backup point guard. Tyus Jones has been a key cog for the Grizzlies’ run, serving as the floor general for one of the best benches in basketball and as one of the team’s most prolific shooter.

For this draft in particular, I’d love for the Grizzlies to acquire a third point guard, as this class is deep with NBA-caliber floor generals. It’d be great to have another young guard who could understudy Morant and Jones, while gaining valuable reps as the leader of the Memphis Hustle.

At the Grizzlies’ draft slot, there may not be a better option than Tre Jones, Tyus’ brother.

What he does well

Tre Jones is one of the best defenders in the draft.

In his final collegiate game, he held lottery prospect Cole Anthony to 9 points and 3 assists on 4-14 shooting. Last season, he also had success guarding top-10 pick Coby White, holding him to 32.6% shooting from the field in 3 games. Though the sample size here is little, it highlights Jones’ ability to cover both traditional point guards and traditional combo guards.

With his quick footwork and impressive defensive mechanics, Jones has the tools to become an exceptional defender at the next level. It could also serve as his swing skill between becoming a good backup point guard, to an elite one — or potentially a starter.

He also plays with great pace both as a facilitator and a scorer. He often times makes the right read to find the open shooter or cutter. Because of his control and poise, he usually finds himself finishing more as a mid-range scorer or with a floater.

Like his brother, Tre Jones is also a steady playmaker that does a great job of controlling the basketball. Of all the point guards in Tankathon’s top 60, Jones ranks 3rd in AST/TO ratio (2.37), trailing only LaMelo Ball and Malachi Flynn. In addition to his steadiness, he also dishes out assist at a nice volume, as he also ranks 4th in assists per 36 minutes in this class.

Tre Jones has all the game to become a good backup point guard, and his strengths elevate his ceiling into becoming an elite one.

How he can improve

The big thing with Tre Jones is his outside shooting. It was great this season, as he shot 36.1% from deep on 3.7 attempts. However, the season before, he shot 26.2% from 3, and UCF took advantage of it by having Tacko Fall “guard” him by sitting in the paint.

The question many execs will have is, which version of Tre Jones will enter the league? Will he be a defensive playmaker that can’t shoot that well? Or will he be a dynamic guard that can get his own shot, defend at a high level, and make 3’s at a proficient clip?

This is where the 2020 pre-draft process will hurt prospects. In most years, Tre Jones would get to showcase his outside shooting in workouts, and his draft stock will rise. However, there are way more questions than answers regrading this process right now.

His outside shooting will be something to monitor in the pre-draft process. If he could prove to scouts that his shooting production this past season is legit, Jones will definitely be off the board by the end of the first round.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The fit and verdict

Tre Jones would be the ideal 3rd point guard behind Ja Morant and Tyus Jones. In his rookie season, he’d probably be more of an insurance-policy reserve who’d likely get more time with the Memphis Hustle. Through the G-League reps, as well as the mentorship of Morant and Tyus, Jones’ development into a NBA point guard would be awesome.

However, if he emerges as the steal he could be, the Grizzlies would have the best point guard trio in basketball.

Is he going to be there at 40? Probably not. There are more teams in that 20-35 range that have more of a need for a backup point guard. Toronto could lose Fred VanVleet in free agency, and Kyle Lowry is aging, so they need to plan ahead a bit. The Los Angeles Lakers really only has LeBron and Rajon Rondo as point guards. The Philadelphia 76ers could also use a traditional backup point guard as well.

It’d be great to see Tre Jones fall down to 40 to reunite with his brother. However, I don’t see how the reigning ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year falls that far, especially since he’s a 20 year-old point guard.

Verdict: A contender would take him with a late-first round pick (my prediction: Toronto, as insurance if Fred VanVleet bolts in free agency). He becomes a steal as a great backup point guard.

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