Damian Jones is a center from Vanderbilt University. Jones is 6’11 and has a wingspan of 7’2. For the year, he averaged, 26.2 minutes per game, 13.9 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game, 1.2 assists per game, 1.6 blocks per game, while shooting 59.0% from the field.
- Efficient scorer
- Gets to the line well
- Developing mid-range jumper
- Runs the floor well
- Good all-around defender
- Shot blocking potential
- High character player
- Excellent size and length
- Basketball IQ
- Gym rat
- Two-way potential
- Energy level
- Lack of growth
- Lack of confidence
- Lacks post moves
- Poor free throw shooter
- Poor court vision
- Mediocre at best rebounder
- Can get pushed around as a defender
Damian Jones is an interesting prospect going into this year’s draft. With his decision to return to school for another year, many people expected Jones to take the next step, but he regressed in many aspects of his game. All of the physical attributes are there for Jones to be successful, but many fear he does not have the attitude to be a dominant player at the next level.
On offense, Jones is very limited. Jones loves to stay very close to the basket, where he works cleanup for his teammates. When he is given the ball down low, Jones lacks an array of post moves, causing him to take some questionable shots. When he does get his shot off, he usually draws fouls, due to his strength and finishing abilities. Jones is starting to develop a very reliable mid-range jumper, one which will have to keep the opposing defense honest. His future coaching staff will need to give him the green light, as Jones does struggle with confidence issues, and if he is feeling it, Jones can be a devastating player. In terms of passing, Jones would not list this as a strength of his. He often gets caught down low holding the ball too long, and committing turnovers.
Defensively, Jones is solid all-around. His combination of size, length, strength, and speed is something most general managers dream of obtaining for their frontcourt. The problem for many front offices, is the intensity level of Jones. His motor runs hot and cold, which causes him to not be as he could be. On the inside, Jones does a good job of using his size to keep his man in front of him, while his length causes for many contested shots. Against stronger opponents, Jones can get pushed around in the paint, showing he needs to continue working in the gym to prove his body strength. Jones has also shown good shot blocking instincts, something many teams are searching for. He does a great job of not fouling on his block attempts, something many college rim protectors struggle mightily with. Although nearly 7 rebounds per game is not terrible, for the player Jones is, he just does not show a natural ability to be a great rebounder.
As an overall, Jones should be viewed as a dominant two-way potential type player. Depending on the coaching staff he is put into, Jones could either emerge as a star, or struggle, and spend quite a bit of time in the D-League. His offensive game is limited right now, but when he is hot, he knows his strengths well, and will put the ball in the basket. Jones is capable of being a great defensive piece if his offense does not translate to the next level. He is a natural shot blocker, fully capable of holding the paint down for either the starting unit, or off the bench. Jones has a draft range in the 20-30 range. Teams like Toronto, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Los Angeles all needing more depth on the interior, Jones would be an excellent piece to add to their bench rotation, or for their coaching staff to use to develop into a possible starter.
Pro Comparison: Robin Lopez
Robin Lopez took a few years to emerge as a good NBA player, and with the questionable motor of Jones, one should expect him to need similar time to find his role in the league.
On offense, neither player was offensively gifted coming out of college, mostly relying on a clean-up role. Robin was mainly competing with his brother for points in the paint, but even when he had the ball he never showed a great feel for offense. This is very similar type of mindset Jones displayed at Vanderbilt. Jones does have a jumper, which is light years ahead of Lopez at the same point in their career. Passing abilities is nearly identical. Both players have very limited court vision, and struggle when asked to do anything with it.
On defense, Lopez plays with much more energy than Jones. Both players are effective in the paint, where they do not get pushed around often, and contest many of their opponent’s shots. Neither are elite shot blockers, but show tremendous defensive skills, which does not show up in the box score. In terms of rebounding, Lopez loves to get dirty and hustle for the boards, while Jones gets what comes near him, and he does not try to go after them very often.
Lopez has built a nice career, based off his tenacious attitude on defense. Jones has very similar defensive characteristics to develop further with NBA coaching, and something he will always be able to fall back on. On offense, Jones has a jumper, something Lopez still does not have consistently. Due to his limited post moves, Jones will likely find his role as a clean-up man early on, while his teammates and coaches learn to trust him, similar to the career path of Lopez. Lopez is not as electric as his brother, but has carved out a nice niche in the league, something I think Jones will do as well.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17