The San Antonio Spurs can bring the best out of Kai Jones
Kai Jones and Evan Mobley are similar in that both are hyper-athletic, floor stretching, rim-protecting big men who project to be able to impact the game in a variety of ways. Where they differ is in how prepared they are to play in the NBA today.
Mobley will go through the same growing pains that afflict most young bigs but Jones seems like he would need to spend some time in the G-League before he’s ready to crack the Spurs rotation. The play of Aleksej Pokuševski in Oklahoma City has shown us that most rookies can find success in the NBA if their teams are willing to play them through their mistakes. But the chances of that happening in San Antonio are slim.
In terms of pure athletic potential, Jones might be one of the most unique players in this draft class. He’s an outstanding athlete who seems to relish in flying in from behind defenders for fast-break alley-oops. On defense, he uses his reach and leaping ability to protect the rim but also has the lateral agility to stay in front of guards when he’s switched on to them.
He’s also shown promise as a three-point shooter. After connecting on just 29 percent of his attempts as a freshman, Jones came back and shot 38 percent from behind the arc as a sophomore. A floor-spacing big man is something the Spurs have been looking for for a while now, Jones could finally be the answer.
One of the things that Jones is going to have to spend a lot of time working on is filling out his frame. He can fly out on the court and can elevate with the best of them but as his current weight, he’s going to have a hard time defending NBA big men.
Finally, Jones’s lack of production at the college level is a reason for hesitation. He’s got potential, but he also only started 14 games in his two seasons at Texas and finished his sophomore season averaging 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Drafting for potential is one thing but using a lottery pick on a player with those kinds of averages in his sophomore season is a little worrisome.
Next: Isaiah Jackson