With Dejounte Murray out with a respiratory illness, the San Antonio Spurs have had to give big starting minutes to second-year guard Tre Jones. Over four starts to close out the season and clinch an unexpected spot in the play-in games, Jones has not just been serviceable, he’s been borderline incredible.
Even if you forget that he was selected 41st overall in 2020, he is still quickly proving himself to be one of the most promising second-unit leaders in the entire league. Since the All-Star break, he is averaging 7.6 points and five assists and is one of the least turnover-prone players in the league. In fact, of the 263 players to rack up over 1000 NBA minutes this season, Jones has the fourth-fewest total turnovers.
As a starter, the trends have continued. With Murray out, he has started the last four games and averaged 13.9 points, 8.5 assists, and 4.9 rebounds, which is very hard to do as an undersized guard. In those four games, he has only turned the ball over twice.
The main concern with Jones as a big-time bench player is his inability to shoot the three-ball. This season, he is a 16% shooter on well under one attempt per game. However, as a starter, he is up to 1.5 shots from deep a game and is making 40% of them. It doesn’t look like he’ll be the next Steph Curry, but he has shown improvement across the board this season.
Tre Jones has earned the backup point guard role on the Spurs
There is no doubt in my mind that Dejounte Murray should be the starting point guard in San Antonio for a long time. That being said, Tre Jones is a true floor general who can provide some excellent minutes when the star needs to sit or when the Spurs need to play strategic basketball.
Being selected in the second round, expectations were low on Tre Jones. It’s hard to make NBA comparisons for a second-rounder on draft night, but now that we’ve seen him play for almost two seasons I have finally come to my conclusion. Tre Jones could rival prime Rajon Rondo. He is a defensive pest who grabs an absurd amount of boards for his size, doesn't make mistakes with the ball in his hands, and makes the team around him better despite not putting up eye-popping scoring numbers.
Rajon Rondo had the benefit of being a starter for 10 seasons, and Jones will not get that luxury. He will probably never be an All-Star or considered a top player in the league, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be the most valuable player on the Spurs' bench. Tre Jones is a do-all guy for a team that needs everyone they can get. Aside from his shooting, not only does he have no weak points, but all his attributes are overall positive.
The Spurs are one of the smartest teams in NBA history, and Tre Jones might be the Einstein among them.