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I Don’t Understand Why Dwayne Jones Isn’t In The NBA Right Now

The title pretty much says it all. In fact, that’s all for today – thanks for reading!

Ok, I’m not really gonna cop out that quickly (in fact I may be lying, because I do have a reasonable idea on why Dwayne isn’t in the bigs) but the general point stands. As word on the street has him potentially bolting the D-League for more lucrative work overseas, it seems a good time to examine the question.

I think the statistics speak pretty well for themselves. Nobody averages 15.6 rebounds per game in any league unless they are an absolute murderer on the backboards.

Having watched Dwayne Jones (currently of the Austin Toros, as if you didn’t know) up-close-and-personal this year, game action confirmed what statistics suggested: he is a good positional rebounder and a physical specimen seemingly built for this particular job. But perhaps most importantly, he is a tenacious worker on the glass. In fact, tenacious might be an understatement.

In two games at the Jam Events Center, I watched Dwayne Jones grab a total of 46 rebounds – 21 offensive and 25 defensive. Granted, Bakersfield is not a particularly good rebounding team, but it is considerably better with the improvements made by Brian Butch and the presence of seven-footer John Edwards.

Based on what I’ve seen from Jones and throughout the NBA (and I am a dedicated NBA follower both personally and professionally) I would say there are no more than six or eight teams where he couldn’t step in today and be at least the second-best rebounder on the squad. Jones simply doesn’t quit on a rebound until he has it or an opponent is either doubled over with the ball in his belly or swinging his elbows like scimitars.

It’s an impressive commitment, one that inspires memories of Dennis Rodman for a 28-year-old Bulls fan. And while his defensive prowess might not be quite Rodman-esque, he does bring a similar enthusiasm to that side of things and ranks third in the D-League with 1.9 blocked shots per game.

Why then can he not get a call-up? Well you could point to his lack of offensive skills, but the guy is managing to average 17.1 points on 61.8% FG shooting without any real offensive game.

To me that says he already understands his strengths and weaknesses – he knows that his best offense is the dunk, and he rarely wastes his or his team’s time with attempts at back-to-the-basket moves. Not to mention that even if he didn’t already play that way, you’d think an NBA coach could convince him not to shoot from outside of the crease and to kick the ball back out on offensive rebounds.

This is where I stood, philosophically speaking, a few days ago when discussing this quandary with one of my roommates, Bakersfield Jam assistant coach (and wise elder) Chris Leazier. I just couldn’t understand why no team had seen fit to spend a few bucks on a demonstrably dominant rebounder and quality defender in the rash of call-ups after the trade deadline.

Naturally, Chris is considerably cleverer than me (as proof, he would probably call himself “more clever”). Jones had, in fact, worked out for the Dallas Mavericks but received no contract offer; this fact led Chris to a conclusion that likely never would have occurred to me but seems to make rather a lot of sense.

To wit: teams want to work guys out, and it’s easy to imagine that Jones would be a terrible workout guy.

When I say terrible workout guy, I don’t mean that he would underperform in workouts, per se. Rather just that his particular skill set is not one that you might expect to resonate particularly well in solo workouts.

He is obviously a very good athlete, but he doesn’t necessarily appear fluid or graceful in his movements around the court. He would have very little to show in terms of shooting or post moves. I don’t know his vertical leap offhand, but I don’t imagine it would be especially impressive.

The strength of Dwayne Jones is his ability to out-battle, out-hustle, downright out-will other players for a rebound. How one is expected to show that in a one-man workout – or even really in a four or five-man workout – I am not entirely sure.

That said, it’s still hard for me to believe that with NBA scouts at virtually every game, nobody thought the D-League’s best rebounder (and he is grabbing five more rebounds per game than the guys in second place) was worth a look at the next level.

So I guess I wasn’t lying to you after all…

I don’t understand why Dwayne Jones isn’t in the NBA right now.

6 Comments

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  1. I do:

    - offensive liability
    - bad hands & turnover prone
    - a bellow average defender who isn’t quick enough to defend the face-up + and the technique to be a formidable low post defensive presence and the explosiveness + timing to be a top shot-blocker
    - doesn’t play with the energy and hustle of, say, Ryan Anderson.
    - very good but not exactly spectacular rebounder at the NBA level where he’s more limited to bellow the rim rebounds. His rebounding rates in the NBA were never close to his D-League or college stats where he has and had a huge size and/or athletic advantage over most the competition.

    Jones has had plenty of opportunities to play in the NBA and even at an Euroleague level. He was never able to take advantage of them. He isn’t better now than he has been in the last few years (except he makes FT at a higher rate, I suppose). He isn’t a prospect any more. It’s time to move on for him.

    —–

    Do you know the guy who directs the broadcasts of the Bakersfield Jam games? Maybe you can suggest him that those angles from under the goal where you can only see a couple of guys are very bad. Very difficult to get a feeling for what’s happening on the court with that perspective (plus all the switching between cameras). Trying to watch a game can become a very annoying experience. I’d like to see them trying a different, more conservative approach.

  2. Mogrovejo…
    In re: Dwayne Jones, I disagree with some of what you say, but clearly some of your points are true… He is an offensive liability (which I addressed in the post) but again, I think his rebounding would outweigh that to a certain extent. I wouldn’t say he’s a below-average defender, and though he’ll never be dominant in anything besides rebounding, I still think dominant rebounding is important enough to warrant another shot at the NBA. As far as improvement, his shooting percentage and rebounding numbers (offensive and defensive) have both increased over the last couple years, so I think he IS better now. Plus, he’s 26 years old – I hardly think that’s over the hill, and if it is then there are a lot of guys in the D-League who are kidding themselves. To say he “isn’t a prospect anymore” is, I think, a little narrow-minded.

    re: the Bakersfield Futurecast… I’m afraid I’ve tried to make that point with little success (in addition to the point that mid-dunk is the wrong time to switch camera angles). I would suggest sending an email to info@bakersfieldjam.com with your comment, and maybe someone can forward your thoughts on to the Futurecast Producer…

  3. Kolsky:

    - agree to disagree about D. Jones past improvement and especially the remaining potential left in him.

    - will send the e-mail. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Frankly, the Jam’s new business model is nothing more than to scam business into suporting a dying franchise. Once ownership recovers the money they lost the team will be gone. Yesterday, they had an open game (yes, where fans could actually buy a ticket) at Rabobank Arena. They drew 2100 fans. Of course, they blew the whole thing up for local media. But no one cares. They got 15 seconds on the broadcast news and four inches in the local paper. Hell, I have seen 500 regularly at the HS games here in town. They will never return to Rabobank because it cost the franchise $400K+ a year. Even if they could give away away tix at $5 and selling 2K per game you couldn’t break even. So when is the last time you saw anyone wearing Jam flash in Bakersfield? Never, nobody cares about this team, especially with their elitest new business plan. Enjoy your $5 an hour while it lasts Mr. PR man. So long Jam!

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