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Perry Jones Is A Perfect Fit For The Thunder

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

The Oklahoma City Thunder no doubt made a splash in the NBA Draft Thursday night when they drafted Perry Jones III of Baylor with the No. 28 selection.

Jones had once been thought of as a lottery pick, and certainly has the talent to be that type of player. However, Jones stayed at Baylor for his sophomore year, and didn't experience a big improvement in his performance from his freshman season.

It also didn't help Jones had some questions arise about the stability of the meniscus in one of his knees.

All of those ingredients led to a free-fall for Jones through the first round of the draft. When OKC's time to pick came, there was no question they needed to take the 6'11 forward.

06/28/12 RELATED STORY: OKC Thunder Get Steal In Perry Jones III

Technically, the pick does not meet the need that had been carved out for the Thunder by the local and national media. Most thought the Thunder needed a backup for Kevin Durant; a bigger, small forward who could stretch the court offensively and play solid perimeter defense.

Despite that need (and there were several players available that OKC had targeted to fill that need), when the opportunity is there to take a player as talented as Jones, you simply have to take it, especially at the No. 28 slot, where there is little risk involved and a whole lot of reward if the pick pans out.

Jones has the size, at 6'11, 235 pounds, to play power forward in the NBA. He is a great ball handler for his size as well, and can move like a guard on the floor. He has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, from down low in the post, to the three-point line.

Jones does have plenty of room to improve on all fronts. First and foremost, he needs to get stronger if he wants to have any sort of presence down low, both offensively and defensively. Second, he needs to improve his shooting ability from the outside, and refine his post game. Lastly, he needs to figure out how to best use his length (7-foot-2 wingspan) to become a solid defender.

Many people have berated Jones for a perceived lack of effort during his time at Baylor, and even back to his high school days, where the effort wasn't always needed to utterly dominate his competition. There have been all kinds of reasons through out there for why Jones simply refused to take over and be the dominant player his talents called for.

More than anything, it appears Jones is simply too nice of a person, and that translates over to the basketball court as well. That's all well and good, but sometimes you need a bit of nasty to really excel on the court.

Take Kendrick Perkins, for example. On the court, he looks like he's out to kill someone, while off the court, he's just another big teddy bear.

Jones also faced a lot of pressure to be a dominant player at Baylor once he arrived on campus. Everyone saw him tapping into his full arsenal of talent to become something great. Many draft experts had him penciled in as the No. 1 selection in the 2011 draft as soon as he got to Baylor.

There are a lot of reasons for his lack of major production on the court, but maybe some answers can be found off of it.

Jones was homeless through some of his high school days. His family moved from hotel to hotel as his parents struggled to make ends meet. Jones was the oldest child and was counted upon to care for younger siblings and cousins while his parents worked.

No one should ever question Jones' emotional or mental toughness after all he has been through in his life, but his caring nature makes him come across as soft on the court. His nature, however, is what makes him such a perfect fit for the Thunder.

The Thunder is like a family, and Jones will fit right in. The other players, most all of whom are just a couple of years older than Jones, will no doubt take him under their wings and help shape him into a tough, and, more importantly, confident player that can succeed at the NBA level.

No one is sure where Jones really fits in with OKC. He'll definitely be spending a lot of time on the bench in his first couple of seasons, but that time will be invaluable to his development. It's quite possible that getting away from Baylor coach Scott Drew will be the best thing for Jones' growth as a player.

Drew is an excellent recruiter, as evidenced by his past few recruiting classes, but his ability to develop talent, and actually coach has long been in question. The Thunder coaching staff has an excellent track record of developing the talent they're given, so these next few years will do wonders for Jones.

The lack of pressure will also help Jones. He won't be counted on to be a dominant scorer or take over in clutch situations. Instead, he'll be able to come off the bench as a power forward, or even a small forward, play good defense, shoot the ball well, and that's it. Not being the key guy will allow Jones to enjoy the game he was meant to play.

Overall, this was a smart, easy pick for the Thunder. A lottery talent fell straight into their lap, and they took advantage of the opportunity they were given. The low risk and high reward of an immense talent like Jones make the pick that much better.

Now, the task for the Thunder is to turn that immense talent and potential into an NBA star. Seeing how they've turned a bunch of young kids into NBA title contenders, I like their chances.

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