Tre Jones: Intelligence
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 grades out extremely well in this area, with a lot of his potential as an offensive player stemming from his IQ. He reads the defense well and understands where the ball needs to go. When the ball is in his hands he is good at directing traffic and finding open teammates, displaying a preternatural ability to know where he, his teammates and the defenders all are on the court at all times. While he lacks some of the physical skill to make plays when the defense is at a disadvantage, it’s not from a lack of awareness. He likewise knows when to push the tempo and when to slow and calm down the Duke offense. Off-ball he knows how and where to be to make things happen, and will take advantage of defenses when they have their back turned.
If there was a category for Tre Jones this is it. He is one of the very best defensive players in the NCAA despite playing the point guard position. His defensive awareness is among the most advanced for a freshman we have ever seen. He makes life hell when defending the point of attack, mostly because of his basketball IQ. His limited tools require elite defensive awareness and he brings it, rarely out of position and consistently reading the situation at least half-a-beat faster than his man to be in the right place at the right time. Off-ball he can sometimes get detached from his man but this is generally from his desire to be close to the play and make an impact; when the ball swings he is quick to close back to his man.
Tre Jones may be the best decision-maker in the draft, making smart decisions with the ball in his hands. He rarely takes risks but still makes a significant impact, not forcing things. This can limit some plays he makes but also ensures his team won’t be watching a transition opportunity because of throwing the ball away. His assist-to-turnover ratio is the best of any recent prospect. He is good at identifying mismatches and is very willing to get the ball to his teammates early in the shot clock to allow them to take advantage.
Jones plays very decisively on both ends of the court. On offense, the ball rarely sticks in his hands, swinging to open players and particularly getting the ball to someone who can take better advantage of the situation than he can. He is patient and will occasionally slow down the half-court pace, but does so purposefully to shift a defender and open up a passing angle; he doesn’t pound the ball. On closeouts he is decisive in attacking and getting into the middle of the floor or to the rim.
Anticipation (A to C)
On offense Jones has good but not elite anticipation, displaying great chemistry with his teammates and placing the ball in a position for them to succeed. Defensively, however, his anticipation reaches an entirely different level. He reads the action as if through his opponent’s eyes, frequently reacting to an opponent’s intention before the idea is fully formed in their mind; they start to attack only to find that Jones has already shifted in that direction. This anticipation allows him to snuff out on-ball actions often, to the point that many opposing offenses choose to simply run their offense through another player. His quick hands pair with his anticipation to allow him to touch the ball, deflecting passes or even just forcing a player to stop the action he was beginning, be that a pass, shot or dribble. Off-ball he is very good at defending one pass away, and while not overly quick gets his hands on a disproportionate amount of passes which are lobbed over the defense errantly. He has been one of the smartest one-pass-away defenders in the nation.