Much of the talk circulating around the discontent Omer Asik has centered on finding a power forward to solidify the Houston Rockets’ frontline and propel them up the next tier towards contention. But the reality of that became clear again on Friday night: Terrence Jones may soon be ready to fully assume the duties at the 4-spot.
The second year forward from the basketball factory in Lexington known as the University of Kentucky showed an array of offensive skills and a three-point shot that can help Jones be the stretch-4 that has typically flourished alongside Dwight Howard over his NBA career. Jones is hitting 41.7 percent from behind the arc this season. Most notably, Jones has shot 58.8 percent from the floor at home and just 41.4 percent on the road, but the entire Rockets team has fared better at the Toyota Center this season.
Many Rockets fans were clamoring for the team to sign Josh Smith this offseason, but it has become clear that maybe the reason Daryl Morey had no intention to sign Smith is because Jones is a younger and cheaper model of the Detroit Pistons forward.
Their games are very similar and both can be defensive game changers. Jones has averaged 1.2 blocks per game in his 23 minutes a night and has the speed to cover both small forwards and power forwards. Offensively, he seems best suited towards facing up at this point in his career, but as he adds more bulk, Jones can begin to work on developing a game down on the blocks. In Friday night’s victory over the Warriors, Jones had 16 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks while holding All-Star David Lee to just 11 points.
And so while Asik will be continued to be mentioned in trade talks, there is no dying need to add a 4-man necessarily just because a big man is being traded. Donatas Motiejunas has played well in spots and the Rockets often feature a good small ball lineup with either Chandler Parsons, Francisco Garcia or Omri Casspi sliding over to play power forward.
Defensively, Jones gives the Rockets one more player capable of protecting the rim, which may be even more in handy given that Dwight Howard’s shot blocking has fallen off of late. Jones may be discussed eventually as one of the steals in his draft, and the circumstances that led up to his falling to No. 18 overall are understandable: he was one of a very talented NCAA team and just didn’t have the time in the limelight to show what he could do. At just 21 years of age, Jones has a long career ahead of him and could be the featured player alongside Howard for years to come.