The 2020-21 regular season is in the books for the Trail Blazers and the 2021 NBA Draft is quickly approaching. For the first time since 2016, the Blazers are set to enter draft night without a selection. However, that doesn’t mean that President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey will sit on the sidelines during the process.
Today’s profile looks at SEC Player of the Year Herb Jones. Last season, Jones led Alabama to the NCAA Tournament with stellar play on both ends of the floor.
- Height: 6’7”
- WT: 210
- Wingspan: 7’0”
- Shooting Hand: Left
- Position: F
- Age: 22
- Projected draft range: 46-60
- PTS: 11.2 | Per 40: 16.4
- REB: 6.6 | Per 40: 9.6
- BLK: 1.1 | Per 40: 1.6
- STL: 1.7 | Per 40: 2.5
- AST: 3.3 | Per 40: 4.8
- FG%: 44.6
- 3P%: 35.1
- FT%: 71.3
Jones burst on to the NBA radar with an outstanding senior season with the Crimson Tide. Serving as Alabama’s lead facilitator for long stretches, Jones established himself as an impactful point forward. In half-court sets, Jones plays with his head up and looks for the soft spots in opposing defenses. Buoyed by his excellent athleticism, Jones is a solid finisher at the rim and is comfortable playing through contact. Off the ball, he is active as a baseline cutter. In transition, Jones can do it all. After snagging a defensive rebound, he can generate fruitful transition opportunities on his own.
Defensively, Jones has an established track record of guarding multiple positions. Last season, he routinely picked up the toughest defensive assignment. Along with cumbersome matchups, Jones spent time at all five positions. Outside of one-on-one matchups, he impacted the action on defense with his well-timed blocks as a sliding help defender.
After appearing on draft boards early in his career at Alabama, Jones fell off the radar for two seasons. He rejuvenated his draft stock with a stellar final year, but his top-shelf body of work is lacking as a result. Offensively, Jones is not a natural floor spacer. He managed to cross the 30-percent threshold on his three-pointers last season, but he is far from a volume shooter.
When the 2021-22 NBA season gets underway, Jones will be a 23-year-old rookie. Jones’ age and monumental leap as a senior raise questions about his remaining upside at the next level.
With Jones leading the way, the Crimson Tide logged a first-place finish in the SEC with a 26-7 overall record. Individually, Jones’ improvements did not go unnoticed. At the end of the season, Jones claimed both SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors. In the NCAA Tournament, Alabama made it to the Sweet 16 before falling to UCLA.
Versatile, two-way players at a premium position are always in demand. Jones’ lack of proven outside shooting is worth noting, but his versatility in all other avenues should attract suitors in the second round of the draft. Jones has proven that he is committed to the little things on the defensive end and he plays within himself on offense. That is a perfect recipe for a second-round prospect looking to carve out a meaningful NBA career.
The Blazers lack of size and defense led to the late-season signing of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Jones checks similar boxes, but his experience as a primary facilitator add to his upside on the offensive end. If the Blazers are looking to add players that are invested in defense and ball movement, Jones is an ideal low-cost option. In the past, Olshey has shown that he is willing to get back in the action for upperclassmen that list a Conference Player of the Year award on their resume.