James Jones: X Factor
“James Jones! The bottom!”
That’s about the only time that Cavs fans ever hear about James Jones, but he does so much more. Jones is a deadly three point shooter and one of the best in the league. The thing is, Jones does so much more than just shoot from deep. When Jones comes in, he gives the Cavs the sort of flexibility that the Miami Heat teams of years past used to win NBA titles.
When James Jones comes in, the Cavs start to play “position-less basketball.” A lineup that David Blatt is starting to use more and more at the end of games is Irving-Smith-Jones-James-Thompson. On offense, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand how deadly this lineup can be. Irving and James can drive and create for others, Smith and Jones stretch the defense and provide spacing, and Thompson does his thing on the offensive glass. The underrated aspect of Jones’ game is his defense.
Jones has terrific size for a small forward at 6’8 and 215 pounds. Jones has decent lateral quickness, but what really helps him thrive on D are his vine-like arms. Jones can play the passing lanes and totally harass a defender. The biggest value that Jones brings is his ability to guard anybody briefly. He’s not LeBron James on defense, but a few times against the Toronto Raptors, Jones switched from Terrence Ross to Amir Johnson on the same possession. Jones may have guarded every single Raptor at one point tonight.
Jones finished the game against the Raptors instead of a certain All-NBA Forward who already had 20 points and 10 rebounds with 10 minutes to go. This speaks to how David Blatt wants his team to play in the final few minutes of the game. Blatt benching Love shows that he has faith in Irving and James to create in the final minutes, while having defensive flexibility. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out, but one thing is for certain, James Jones balled out tonight.