After one of the most productive seasons ever for a Mountaineer, Kevin Jones looks to make his case as a first round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft at the NBA Draft Combine and in individual team workouts.
The former West Virginia standout is one of 60 players invited to the Combine which takes place on June 7-8 in Chicago. Jones also worked out for five teams in the past two weeks: the Celtics, Warriors, Thunder, Bulls, and Heat. Which team will call his name on June 28?
Currently, Jones is being pegged as a late-first round to early-second round pick. At 6’8” 250 pounds, the power forward will be undersized in the League, but with his ability to rebound and knock down mid-range jumpers, comparisons can be made to Udonis Haslem and Chuck Hayes.
After withdrawing his name from last year’s Draft, Jones’ choice to return to Morgantown for his senior season undoubtedly improved his stock. This past season saw Jones average 19.9 points/game and 10.9 rebounds/game, becoming only the third player in Big East history to lead the conference in both categories. His superb numbers may have been concealed due to WVU’s 9-9 conference finish and early exit in the NCAA Tournament, but Jones displayed the work ethic and leadership necessary to carry the freshman-heavy team.
Jones possesses great hands and excels at shooting off the catch. The key to his NBA success will lie in his effectiveness as a pick-and-pop guy who can consistently hit open jumpers and snag offensive rebounds. Jones displayed his tenacity on the offensive glass last year, becoming one of the nation’s best and finishing number one all-time at WVU with 450 offensive rebounds.
“KJ” does not have great speed or athleticism, but he does have an extremely high motor and a nose for the ball, giving tremendous effort and regularly outworking his matchup. This was plenty evident in the Mountaineers’ December 6 overtime loss to then-No.6 Baylor. Jones scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in his personal matchup with the longer and more athletic Perry Jones III. The 6’11” Baylor forward, who projects to be a lottery pick this year, was held to just 2 of 9 shooting with 4 points in 41 minutes.
While Jones established himself as a premier rebounder and developed his post-up game, he failed to improve his three-point shot. The Mount Vernon native showed promise during his sophomore season, shooting 40 percent from deep. However, Jones shot only 30 and 27 percent in his junior and senior seasons, respectively. While he has showed the range, and NBA teams would love for Jones to be a stretch 4, his inconsistency from beyond the arc at the college level does not translate well to the longer NBA three.
With the seemingly endless parade of Haslem comparisons, a good workout with the Heat may be Jones’ ticket into the first round as a future replacement for the soon-to-be 32-year-old veteran or to shore up a Miami frontline that has been greatly exposed in the Playoffs this year.
Also, don’t be surprised if the Warriors select Jones with the last pick of the first round. Again, it will depend on the results of his team workout, but an executive board member/consultant by the name of Jerry West may not be able to resist a fellow Mountaineer, especially a low-risk, high-value pick such as Jones.
Jones’ showing at the Combine will ultimately prove the difference in which round he is drafted. If fellow forwards like Draymond Green, Royce White, and Andrew Nicholson come off the board first, Jones will likely fall to the Bobcats, the Raptors, or the Pistons in the early-second round.