D-League Digest

Dishing info and insight on the NBA Development League

In re: skills that translate…

…I present to you Dwayne Jones, center, Austin Toros.

On the heels of Wednesday’s musings about top D-League scorer Morris Almond, it seems fitting to chat about someone on the flip side of the “Does his skill set make him ready?” discussion.

On the stat sheet, Jones has been an absolute dynamo this season. The last time he had a single-digit rebound game was November 28, and he grabbed double-digits boards for the 18th straight game against Fort Wayne on Wednesday. His 17 double-doubles (in 20 games!) lead the league, and no one else has more than 11. While we’re piling on here, Wednesday night’s 23-rebound effort marked his fifth game this season of 20-plus rebounds. The man also shoots nearly 63 percent from the field and scores 18 points per game.

The numbers are terrific. But Jones doesn’t score because he is some sort of post-up powerhouse. While he does get some of his points by creating his own offense, the 26-year-old’s play with the ball in his hands is far from overwhelming. He isn’t a dominant scorer, he doesn’t have outstanding post moves, and he turns the ball over nearly three times per game. But he is a guy who uses legitimate NBA size (6-11, 250 pounds) to pound the offensive glass (more than six of his league-best 15.7 rebounds per game come at that end) and do plenty of scoring off of putbacks, tip-ins and other garbage-bucket opportunities created by the fact that he plays with guards and swingmen who draw a lot of defensive attention (Alonzo Gee, Curtis Jerrells and recently Malik Hairston come to mind).

Jones isn’t an overwhelming defensive presence, but he isn’t a liability at that end either. The man is capable of blocking shots and has a sizable enough frame that he should be able to avoid being pushed around by NBA bigs. Again,  just because it’s worth noting once more, he kills it on the boards. At this point in the schedule, it seems reasonable to buy in to his rebounding prowess now that he can no longer agitate Ridiculous Upside‘s Scott Schroeder by playing half his games against Kevin Pittsnoggle. And while Scott occasionally wonders if Jones is putting out maximum effort, he has praised Jones of late.

To adapt some of what was said Wednesday, NBA teams aren’t bringing D-League centers aboard so that they can be the focal point of the offense in the post. A call-up center needs to bring the size and strength to avoid allowing opponents mismatches on the low blocks, and he needs to be crash-happy enough on the boards to the point that opponents will pay for not keeping a body on him. Jones has shown at least that much, both in the D-League and to some extent in his previous ventures through the NBA.  In 80 NBA games over parts of four seasons, Jones posted a 17.4 percent total rebound rate and collected 15.5 percent of available offensive rebounds. That’s a small sample size, but it falls in line as a reasonable extension of what we have seen from Jones in the D-League.

Dwayne Jones’ ceiling isn’t tremendous. He has been around the D-League for parts of four seasons since 2005 while having as many cups of coffee in the NBA. His offensive arsenal isn’t likely to expand too far anytime soon.

But he can hammer the glass, get some points off the board and block shots, so that should make him soon to go when a team looking for a stopgap rather than a long-term prospect next comes searching for a big man.

3 Comments

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  1. Guys who can rebound and play defense can always play for my team. I think if NBADL big men were extremely intent on trying to get into the big league, these are the two areas they need to concentrate on most.

    NBADL big men will never be able to score their way onto an NBA team because the drop off in talent between D-League bigs and the Show’s bigs is so vast. But if they can play great defense and can rebound the ball, there are rotational spots around the league that will open for a guy like that.

    If Jones can show better defensive skills and initial defensive positioning, which for centers and power forwards is just so important as getting a low post player to start their offense just outside their comfort zone is so important, Jones could see some definite chances at playing time at the next level.

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