The Minnesota Timberwolves’ season is over, which means it’s time to start assessing how each player on the roster performed this year. So far in this series, we looked at Aaron Brooks, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Nemanja Bjelica, Gorgui Dieng, Jamal Crawford, Derrick Rose and Cole Aldrich’s performances. Up next is Tyus Jones.
With his size and lack of athleticism, Jones was never expected to be a NBA-caliber starter. He has proved himself to be a good distributor and a gritty player, though he is obviously not a scorer. In his third season, Jones was supposed to continue to improve. Ideally, he would become a solid backup point guard.
Jones did just what was expected of him. He continued to set his teammates up for success and demonstrate his high basketball IQ. In fact, he was fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio among players who appeared in 20 or more games. Jones upped his scoring, though he still averaged a mediocre 5.1 points per game. As in his first two seasons, he consistently made hustle plays that changed the momentum of games.
Perhaps Jones’ greatest strength is his incredible amount of “try.” What he lacks in athleticism and size, he makes up for in scrappiness. Time and time again, Jones makes the kind of gritty plays that win games. This attitude has been in short supply in the Timberwolves rebuilding years. Jones, along with Jimmy Butler, have brought scrappy back into fashion in Minnesota.
However, the most important highlight of Jones’ 2017-18 season came on Jan. 8. It started off, as all epic stories do, with some conflict for our hero.
LeBron James swats Tyus Jones to Canada, stares down his corpse pic.twitter.com/2OCAE5Jvor— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) January 9, 2018
However, Jones was not deterred. Minutes later, he got his revenge.
Wiggins on Tyus Jones' slam… "It was great. He needed to get him back because [LeBron] blocked his shot before. Tyus had to get him back. The dunk was better than the block." pic.twitter.com/S000oCwfU1— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) January 9, 2018
Just like in his first two seasons, Jones’ weakness is his inability to score. His pass-first mentality does have its merits, of course. For Minnesota’s offensively challenged bench, they could use a few more points per game from Jones. This is especially true when Crawford goes on one of his frequent cold streaks.
It’s not that Jones is a poor shooter. Per Cleaning the Glass, he has an effective field goal percentage of 53.6 percent. That puts him in the top-25 percent of point guards. He also shoots 36 percent on three’s which is better than the average point guard. When he does shoot, he has a good shot selection with very few long two’s.
There are two main issues that could be coming into play. First, it is likely that Jones’ intelligence and commitment to taking high-quality shots may be causing him to pass up opportunities to score. He knows what kind of shots he can make consistently, and doesn’t branch out of that comfort zone. Secondly, some of his teammates, most notably Crawford, are a little trigger-happy. This leaves fewer shots for Jones. Next year, Jones needs to be more confident and assertive in order to improve his scoring production.
Jones will enter free agency in the summer of 2019. Unless he is traded, he will be with the Wolves for at least one more year.