Duke’s Tre Jones enters a point guard heavy draft with one of the highest basketball I.Q.s. Some analysts have Jones projected to go right in the range the Milwaukee Bucks will be on the clock (about 18 or 19) in the 2020 NBA Draft, while others have him going much later. Let’s take a look at his game.
Weight: 183 pounds
Per Game Stats
Tre Jones has, perhaps, the most clearly defined strengths and weaknesses in this year’s class; there’s no question about what he can do well and what aspects of his game need refinement. Although that makes him easier to scout, there is a certain cap on his potential that doesn’t exist with other, more raw prospects—even if that doesn’t make him a “safer” pick.
Manipulating Defenses: Whether it’s with his eyes or dribble, Jones is a trickster when it comes to forcing defenses into false steps. Like a quarterback looking off the safety, he does a tremendous job bamboozling guys into thinking he’s going one way before revealing his true intention at the last second. He also does a great job using his dribble as a weapon to create for his teammates. He’ll often penetrate gaps, not trying to score for himself, instead, with the purpose of attracting help and dishing it to the open man. This is advanced level manipulation and something you’ll see more and more from Jones as he continues to grow.
Crafty: On the same plane, his craftiness extends beyond his passing and into his scoring ability—such is the life of an undersized guard with less than ideal athleticism. He understands how to use his body to create separation between himself and a big man around the basket. He’s also fond of putting his man in “jail” after a ball-screen. Lastly, his floater game is developing and something he’ll likely polish in the pros.
Hands: The dude has some incredibly quick hands on defense, allowing him to average 1.8 steals per game in college. If the ball-handler relaxes for even a second, whether with his dribble or in his triple threat, Jones pounces like a King Cobra, striking before his victim even knew what happened. Just ask Cole Anthony (2:18 and then again(!) at 4:32).
Scoring: This might seem like an odd weakness for someone who just averaged 16.2 points per game, but it’s absolutely true. Although he has some ability at each of the three levels, he has a lot of work to do. After only knocking down 26.2 percent of his threes in his freshman year, that number came all the way up to 36.1 percent last season, but he’ll have to continue improving his mechanics. He also loves to pull-up from the mid-range, often leaning away from the hoop to create more space from his defender. This makes it very difficult for him to knock those down on a consistent basis. At the rim, he’s crafty but unreliable. He’s often forced to shoot with bigger guys in his face, making it difficult for him to finish at an acceptable percentage.
Size/Athleticism: He’s a little bit bigger and more athletic than his older brother, Tyus Jones, but this is still a detriment to his NBA hopes. He doesn’t have the explosive leaping ability to make up for his size disadvantage either, which makes everything he does that much more difficult. It’s a huge question mark whether his game will translate to a league with the world’s greatest athletes.
- ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year
- Ranked 44th in the ACC among qualified players in field goal percentage.
- Pass-first point guard
- Always has his eyes up looking for teammates
- Great lateral quickness on defense, can beat the ball-handler to the spot
- Not always engaged on defense
Floor general is the perfect word to describe Jones. Much like when a quarterback is labeled a game manager, Jones won’t be asked to beat the opposing team, he’ll simply be asked not to lose it.
He’ll never be able to create his own shot in the NBA, instead, relying on others to get him open looks on the perimeter. He has work to do as a spot-up three-point shooter, but made good progress from his freshman to sophomore year. If he can continue that trend, he could turn into an acceptable outside shooter.
His passing doesn’t get nearly the attention as someone like LaMelo Ball or Nico Mannion, but he’s just a tier below them. He makes incredibly accurate passes on the move and loves to throw an overhead skip pass while going to his right.
He is a smart pick-and-roll creator, manipulating the defense and creating open looks for his teammates. This is where most of his value on offense will likely come. He understands defenses and knows how to exploit them for optimal results. Jones will need every ounce of that basketball I.Q. he can muster to make up for his lack of athleticism.
Defensively, he can be an on-ball fiend when he wants to. He has great lateral quickness, allowing him to beat the ball-handler to the spot. He also has fairly good technique by keeping his arms out wide and puts his chest into dribblers. Unfortunately, he takes way too many plays off and often stops altogether when he’s hit with a ball-screen. He’ll need to improve his effort and strength to become a capable pick-and-roll defender.
The Bucks are set at point guard for the time being, but could have an opening in a few years with Eric Bledsoe and George Hill aging. And they like to target smart basketball players. However, Jones might not fit the rest of the profile they like in their recent draft picks so it’s a toss up if they’d even consider him on draft night.