With all the hoop-la and attention on the Dwight Howard signing this offseason, the Houston Rockets still do not have a definite starter at the power forward position.
By far the weakest and least productive position for the Rockets a season ago, the same can be said of that on paper at this moment. Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, and Omri Casspi are the only power forwards Houston has, while Greg Smith can fill in at both the center and power forward spot.
But the Rockets need a stretch-4 to complement Howard, and it looks like Jones is slowly separating himself from the pack. Coming off an impressive showing at the Orlando Summer League, Jones was named to the All-Summer League First Team after averaging 15.8 points, 7 rebounds and 2.5 assists over his four appearances. He was the No. 7 overall scorer.
Now, even his teammates are noticing his improvements during their summer workouts in Los Angeles.
“From my own standpoint the guy that’s really stood out from an improvement standpoint is Terrence Jones,” Jeremy Lin said. “He’s been playing really well. He’s confident, he knows he belongs and I think as a result we’re seeing him do things that he couldn’t do last year. He’s definitely grown as a player.”
Grantland’s Brett Koremenos carefully observed Jones during his summer league games:
“Dwight Howard is all the rage in Houston right now, but with his signing (and even before it) the development of Terrence Jones has become a key story line. The Rockets offense hummed along last year thanks to an emphasis on spacing the floor and getting high-efficiency shots — 3s, layups, and free throws — early in the shot clock. The best offensive results for Houston often came when some type of stretch 4 (Marcus Morris and then later Chandler Parsons) was inserted into the lineup. When one of those two played power forward, it brought a player into the frontcourt that could be a threat from behind the arc and also attack the rim off the bounce. Parsons, however, can’t be expected to man that position for an entire season, which is where Jones comes in.
When given the opportunity to attack a closing defender, Jones has showed off an ability to attack in straight-line drives with both speed and power to great results. His finishing could use some work, as Jones virtually never uses his off hand (he’s had one right-hand attempt by my unofficial count), and it costs him a handful of layups and three-point-play opportunities. But even with that drawback, Jones has easily been one of the best players here at summer league and is making a strong case to belong in the Rockets rotation.”
While Jones did average 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in 23 minutes when he was re-called up to the Rockets in April, there were still times that he looked raw, indecisive, and inconsistent. But he has all the tools and skills to be the power forward that the Rockets are looking for, so don’t be surprised if he gets first dibs with the starting lineup over Motiejunas, Casspi, or Smith when training camp begins.