Every NBA team covets wing depth. Last year’s Charlotte Hornets were a perfect example of why it’s important. With Cody Marting dealing with long term knee/quad issues, the Hornets frequently found themselves scraping the bottom of the rotation trying to get productive minutes on the wing whenever any of the regulars had to miss time. A late first or early second round target to help with that is Colby Jones out of Xavier, the 30th ranked player on our board.
Standing reach: 8’7″
Weight: 199 pounds
Vertical: 30.5″ standing, 35″ max
Perimeter defense, team play
If there’s one single skill that Jones can sell himself on at the NBA level, it’s his defense. He plays super hard on this end of the floor and should be able to guard just about any perimeter player. He’s very quick-footed with his slide steps and is very good at crossing his feet to run to beat ball handlers to a spot when they get an edge on him. One thing that consistently comes up when reading up on Jones is ability to navigate screens.
He complements that strong defensive play with a smart all around offensive game. He’s not a knockdown shooter or big time scorer, but he fits seamlessly into team concepts and elevates his team with his connective abilities. He averaged 5.2 assists per 40 minutes in his junior season, which is a big number for collegiate wings.
He’s not a complete liability as a scorer despite it not being his best attribute. He was a good 3-point shooter last season and has smooth repeatable form that should work for him at the NBA level, and he has a decent floater if he gets run off the line.
Offensive creation, jump shooting history
Jones seems destined to be a high level role player largely because of his lack of ability as a primary scorer and shot creator. He doesn’t have a lot of wiggle with the ball and first step isn’t quick enough to get all the way to the rim on a consistent basis. He’s reliant on screens to help him get into an advantageous situation offensively and looks better suited to be a secondary facilitator instead of a primary ball handler.
While the 3-point shooting was good in his junior season at Xavier, teams will question the long term reliability of that production. He was just a 30.3% 3-point shooter in his first two collegiate seasons, and his free throw shooting got worse each year, bottoming out at 65.3% as a junior. There’s good reason to question if the shot will translate when the game speeds up at the NBA level.
Jones is somewhat similar to Hornets guard Cody Martin–he’s a tenacious defender with secondary play making talent that plays winning basketball. He should be ready to contribute right away as a strong role player that won’t put up big stats but will make the team better with his presence on the floor.