Tre Jones: Defense
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
Jones is an absolute monster in this area, completely dismantling opposing ball-handlers on multiple occasions. His tenacity and motor are extremely disruptive, putting pressure on opponents that they don’t normally face. He has a low defensive stance and active hands that contest every intended action by the ball-handler, and uses his hands to swat, poke and rip at the ball without fouling. His anticipation not only leads to steals but keeps him attached to his man through a variety of dribble moves and actions. His size could be an issue against larger guards in the NBA, but his physicality and smothering attack helps to make up for that. He will be a high-end guard defender in the NBA from day one.
Jones’ basketball IQ and anticipation make him a solid off-ball defender, with good position in passing angles. He has a tendency to watch the ball and drift towards the play, never truly leaving his man but opening up enough space he is forced to race back for occasionally late closeouts. As with his on-ball defense he can stay glued to his man when he seeks to, following them through off-ball movement and fighting through screens; his strong motor helps him in this regard as he often will get caught on the screen and forced to fight past it. He can deny passes and handoffs exceptionally well, preventing the ball from reversing or effectively taking a player out of the play.
Jones is limited in this area by his physical tools, as he doesn’t have the size or athleticism to have a high-end impact as a help defender. That being said his instincts are solid, and he generally makes the right decisions when helping, identifying where help is needed and rotating decisively. He is good at tagging the roller and using his lower body strength to prevent easy passage by wings and big men when he has to show help. His ability to fight through screens keeps Duke from needing to switch as often, freeing Barrett or Williamson up to stay home and muck up passing lanes. When necessary he doggedly will guard up a position, although his tools aren’t great. Watching him as half of a trap is akin to watching a pack of wolves take down prey.
Again Jones’ lack of size and athleticism hurt him here, but not as much as you might think. His intelligence is seen in his positioning on larger players, often taking away what they would most want to do. His physicality, motor and active hands are enough to make even much larger players work to reap any benefits from attacking him after a switch, and he can even deny entry passes to bigs trying to post him up or deny passes to wings on the perimeter. The increased size of NBA players will make this even more difficult, but similar to Chris Paul you don’t want to judge this book by its cover.
High impact plays
Tre Jones is the epitome of an impact point-of-attack defender. Has strong, quick hands that lead to steals, creating these both on-ball and off-ball. Even when he doesn’t steal the ball he often creates deflections and bad passes that lead to a teammate notching a steal. His defense not only stymies the opponent’s offense, it generates transition opportunities going the other way. He generates events both for himself and others, but often in ways not reflected in the box score; things such as stonewalling drives, deflecting passes and forcing opponents to pick up their dribble in bad spots. He is a true impact defender.