Jan 18, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; San Antonio Spurs draft pick Tre Jones (3) lays the ball up during the second half against the Louisville Cardinals at Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
The 41st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, former Duke guard Tre Jones is a perfect fit for the San Antonio Spurs — These are the reasons why.
Quite frankly, there are a lot more reasons for San Antonio Spurs fans to be excited about the 41st pick, Tre Jones than just three. We’re talking about a blue-chip, hard-working defensive savant with incredible talent as a floor general and leader. By selecting Jones, the Spurs are getting back to the aspect of their game that’s made them great for over two decades: Two-way intellect.
Sources: San Antonio is selecting Tre Jones at No. 41 in NBA Draft.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 19, 2020
Here’s the list of Jones’ accomplishments through his two seasons under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke:
- 2019-20 ACC Player of the Year
- 2019-20 ACC Defensive Player of the Year
- 2019-20 All-ACC
- 2019 All-ACC Tournament
- 2018-19 ACC All-Freshman
- Two-time ACC All-Defensive selection
So clearly, the kid’s got game. Jones is a gamer; through and through. He elevates his play in big moments, channeling all of his skills and putting his team in a position to succeed. Jones isn’t afraid to take a big shot, defer to a teammate, or attack larger opponents despite lacking in the size department.
By picking Tre Jones, the San Antonio Spurs are proving they haven’t lost their edge. Maybe they’re drafting in a different range from what they’re used to, but that scouting department is just as talented as it’s ever been. The stakes are higher and they’re ready to tackle them — Which is the same mentality Jones carries as a player and a person.
These are the qualities that make him a perfect fit for San Antonio Spurs basketball.
Next: Constant defensive effort
Mar 2, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Markell Johnson (11) drives to the basket as NBA Draft prospect Tre Jones (3) defends at Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Tre Jones is a game-changer on defense.
When the San Antonio Spurs picked Devin Vassell at No. 11, it became clear that they’re focusing on improving that defense. Picking Jones in the early 40s is a no-brainer in following suit. Considered by many to be the top guard defender in this draft, Jones sticks to his opponent’s hip like glue. He’s exceptional at fighting over screens and through contact to put his assignment in uncomfortable positions with the ball in their hands.
Even off the ball, Jones manages to pick off passes and generate fastbreak looks similarly to the Spurs’ own Dejounte Murray. No matter who he’s up against, Jones is a defensive pest who can make the lives of his matchup more difficult. He always gives 100 percent effort with an unwavering motor that helps him capitalize on lackadaisical offense against uninspired competition.
Playing for Coach K is no joke — It’s certainly prepared Jones for life under Gregg Popovich’s watch. Though the San Antonio Spurs don’t have a ton of minutes to send his way through the early portion of this looming season, he’ll do everything in his power to give G League opponent hell and crack Pop’s rotation by the middle of next season.
Beyond that, Jones is the type of team-player who inspired his teammates to be better. He’s an expert communicator who calls out screens and directs the flow of his team to ensure success. In that sense, he’s representative of the vocal leadership and direct effort that this team needs.
Next: Dropping Dimes
Feb 15, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; San Antonio Spurs pick Tre Jones (3) and Duke Blue Devils guard Jordan Goldwire (14) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
The San Antonio Spurs’ offense will flow under Tre Jones’ watch.
An unselfish player with a high basketball IQ and great handles, Jones is going to facilitate the San Antonio Spurs’ offense at every opportunity. By the time he’s a full-time rotation player, he’ll likely be in command of the Spurs’ second unit from a ball-handling perspective. Any big man will thrive with him as a pick-and-roll partner as Jones finds small windows to dump the ball to the roll-man.
Beyond that, Jones does a great job of executing a gameplan and operating within sets to make things happen on offense. Even if he’s not the primary ball-handler, Jones is great at facilitating secondary assists when playing off of high-caliber teammates. When playing with this Spurs team as constructed, Jones should have plenty of good looks at 3-pointers. However, he’ll also be able to make that extra pass to ensure his teammate gets an even better look at the basket.
Two-way effort and high-IQ decision-making are what made the Spurs a dynasty over the last two decades. Jones is amongst the best perimeter defenders San Antonio has selected coming out of college, etching his name alongside current and future Hall of Famers. With his work ethic and drive, it’s not hard to picture Jones doing the same on his career path.
Backup point guards who can lock up starters are a rare commodity and with time, Tre Jones should be able to provide that for the San Antonio Spurs.
Next: Yet another shot creator
Mar 7, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; San Antonio Spurs draft pick Tre Jones (3) shoots over North Carolina Tar Heels guard Christian Keeling (55) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Tre Jones is going to love the San Antonio Spurs’ shot doctor, Chip Engelland.
Over the course of his college career, Jones has made strides as a jump shooter. After hitting only 41.4 percent of his shots and 26.2 percent of his threes as a freshman, Jones spent plenty of time practicing that aspect of his game. Now, he’s a capable shot-creator who can launch jumpers when given just a sliver of daylight off of screens or dribble moves.
— Overtime (@overtime) November 19, 2020
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He’ll need to tighten his handle to break down defenders in the pro ranks, but there’s going to be plenty of opportunity for him in catch-and-shoot situations. Jones’ free throw percentage came up to 77.1 percent in his second college season, affirming his ability to knock down shots from the charity stripe with a delicate touch and solid shot mechanics.
Once he gets an opportunity to work out the kinks and build his repertoire with the Spurs’ development staff, namely jump-shooting extraordinary Chip Engelland, Jones will be ready to take on anyone and everyone in his path. It’s an extraordinary feat to work your way into an NBA rotation and make so many incredible plays throughout college.
Jones has ice in his veins and fears absolutely nothing — Not even the challenges in front of him. The 20-year-old understands his place in this league and the fact that he’ll need to work for everything he’s going to get with the San Antonio Spurs. He’s got the mental toughness and innate competitive drive to make it with this franchise.
Now, it’s a matter of proving himself at the next level. That shot’s going to come along and soon, Jones’ jumper will be but an afterthought.