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Player-by-Player: James Jones

Minutes--  Last Year: 18.1  This Year: 22.0  Change:  +3.9

Points-- Last Year:  6.4  This Year: 8.0  Change:  +1.6

Field Goals Attempted--  Last Year: 5.8  This Year: 5.6  Change:  -0.2

Field Goal Percentage--  Last Year: 36.8%  This Year: 43.7%  Change:  +6.9%

Three-Pointers Attempted--  Last Year: 3.1  This Year: 3.5  Change:  +0.4

Three-Point Percentage--  Last Year: 37.8%  This Year: 44.4%  Change:  +6.6%

Free Throws Attempted--  Last Year:  1.1  This Year: 1.7  Change:  +0.6

Free Throw Percentage-- Last Year: 87.7%  This Year: 87.8%  Change:  +0.1%

Effective Field Goal Percentage-- Last Year: 47.0%  This Year: 57.6%  Change:  +10.6%

Offensive Rebounds-- Last Year:  0.4 This Year:  0.7 Change:  +0.3

Defensive Rebounds-- Last Year: 1.9  This Year:  2.0 Change:  +0.1

Overall Rebounds-- Last Year: 2.3  This Year: 2.8  Change:  +0.5

Assists-- Last Year: 0.6  This Year: 0.6  Change:  +0.0

Steals--  Last Year: 0.4  This Year: 0.4  Change:  +0.0

Blocks-- Last Year: 0.6  This Year: 0.3  Change:  -0.3

Turnovers-- Last Year: 0.4  This Year: 0.5  Change:  +0.1

Salary Status:  Player option for next year at $3.2 million

Former Blazers GM John Nash once said that one of the keys to a successful season was having two or three guys who weren’t necessarily your stars, or even your big-minute players, come in and contribute more than you expected.  By any measure James Jones fit that bill this season.  When we got him from Phoenix with a mere trade exception you figured, "This is one of Kevin Pritchard’s pet projects."  Frankly there wasn’t much Jones could have done wrong.  Contributing anything would have been a bonus.  That he became a integral, if somewhat subtle, part of our offensive system is a credit to James himself.  He came ready to play, threw himself into the season, accepted his role, and helped out in enough ways besides just scoring that Nate could keep him on the floor.  All of that paled next to his shooting though.  He didn’t just stretch defenses, he confounded them.  He was at or near the top of the league in three-point percentage much of the season, finishing third overall.  This was a guy who had never shot above 41.8% from the field overall in his career and he shot 44.4% from the three-point arc this season, 43.7% overall.  And this was without a clear inside scoring presence to play off of.  His overall and three-point percentages rose nearly 7% each and that effective field goal percentage is just crazy.  (It factors in the value of three-point shooting, obviously.)  Though he never hit a game-winner, Jones contributed to plenty of wins.  We were 18-6 when he scored 10 points or more.  We weren’t the same team when he wasn’t clicking.

This brings us to the downside.  He didn’t click all season.  Whether due to injury, fatigue, smarter defenses, or focus Jones faded during the second half of the season.  One of the problems is likely his body, which isn’t set to take an NBA pounding for 82 games.  He’s smart enough to get in the right position but not athletic enough to make a difference there.  He’s not a strong rebounder or defender.  When he wasn’t getting and hitting shots he became a questionable player, especially during those later months.

The big question for the Blazers is whether the magnificent shooting is enough…or rather whether the team will have enough shooting without him.  Given our hopes for Martell Webster and Travis Outlaw is there also room for Jones on this team?  Him being 27 is an advantage over a guy like Channing Frye.  James might be willing to accept a mid-bench role and spot minutes as the three-point specialist behind our young guns.  You could imagine him flourishing with a true post player on the floor to collapse defenses.  But a lot will depend on the size and length of contract he’s willing to accept.  I don’t envision the front office sacrificing major cap flexibility for Jones if they think they have other shooters in uniform already.  Also if we do invest in him he’ll need to be more consistent through the year, up to and including the playoffs, where he could prove the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  A longer-term contract means greater expectations.  Pleasant surprise won’t do it.

For this year, however, there’s not much bad to say.  Acquiring Jones was like going to a garage sale and picking up a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card for a dime.  It’s not going to make you rich, but it’s a real nice get and something you’ll talk about for a while.

Verdict:

James_jones_medium

    You kinda snuck up on us, but we’re glad you’re here, Baby!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)