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Evaluating DeQuan Jones

Jones was the longest of NBA longshots: a fringe contributor in college who became a rotational player in the league despite going undrafted.

DeQuan Jones
DeQuan Jones
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

When DeQuan Jones concluded his career at Miami, he didn't look like an NBA-level prospect. In his four seasons as a Hurricane, the Georgia native averaged a modest 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds on 44 percent shooting. After going undrafted in 2012, he earned an invitation to the Orlando Magic's summer-league team, where he averaged six points and 4.5 rebounds on 39.1 percent shooting. From there, he joined the team for training camp, where he ultimately beat out the veteran swingman Quentin Richardson for Orlando's final regular-season roster spot.

The journey didn't end there: just three games into Orlando's season, Jones started at small forward against the Chicago Bulls and found himself matched up against an NBA All-Star in Luol Deng.

DeQuan Jones
No. 20
Small Forward
Points Per Game Rebounds Per Game Assists Per Game
3.7 1.7 0.3
Points Per 36 Rebounds Per 36 Assists Per 36
10.4 4.7 0.7
PER Rebound Rate Assist Rate
8.4 7.4 3.0
FG% 3FG% FT%
43.6 25.7 66.7
eFG% TS%
45.6 48.5

All statistics in this table from Jones' player page at basketball-reference. Career-best statistics highlighted in gold; career-worst statistics highlighted in silver.

One year into Jones' NBA career and we're no closer to learning if he's an NBA-level talent, though he is certainly not the league's worst player, as ESPN analyst David Thorpe intimated in March. Jones' biggest limitation as a wing player is that he doesn't have a reliable three-point shot, although to his credit he doesn't take many threes.

Jones also showed flashes of offensive utility, as in March, when he shot 57.8 percent from the floor, primarily by putting his head down and driving to the rim, where he converted a LeBron James-like 73.3 percent on more than two attempts per game.

If Jones is to stick in the NBA, he'll need to make defense his calling card. At 6-foot-8 and with a muscular, 221-pound build, Jones has the body of an NBA defender, and he drew some challenging assignments throughout the season, particularly when coach Jacque Vaughn wasn't ready to trust Maurice Harkless with those jobs. It was Jones, not Harkless, whom James beat off the dribble for a game-winning layup for the Miami Heat, for example.

The stat- and play-tracking service Synergy Sports Technology isn't high on Jones' defense, ranking him 445th in the league overall in points surrendered per play. Jones excels in isolation situations, limiting opponents to 36.1 percent shooting and 0.92 points per play there, but otherwise looks ordinary at that end despite his physical gifts and his willingness to engage. His finest performance came in a January loss to the New York Knicks, where he limited All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to seven points on 3-of-10 shooting; Anthony scorched the Magic's other defenders for another 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting.

Jones has at least one other aspect of defense down: the help-side rejection from behind. Chris Bosh was just one of the several bigs whom Jones swatted at the rim when the Magic's initial defense broke down.

Jones will become an unrestricted free agent in July unless the Magic extend him a qualifying offer. Given the low cost of keeping him around, it seems likely that the Magic will retain him, and look for more growth in 2013/14.

Grade: C-

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