David Jones vs UAB Breakdown


David Jones had a standout performance Sunday against UAB, furthering his strong senior campaign. Jones finished the win with 32 points on 10-21 shooting, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 1 block, and 3 turnovers to go along with 10-11 from the free throw line. 

In this game, Jones showed everything that scouts had been begging for him to show on a consistent basis (which he has done at Memphis for most of the season) previously at St. John’s and DePaul: An ability to read passing lanes without getting burned, shoot jumpers consistently, go right as he can easily go left, and create second scoring chances efficiently and creatively all made this a standout performance in a season in which he has scored double digits in every single game.

Starting with offense in accordance with the video, David Jones’ burst combined with his lethal shot fake that puts defenders out of position makes him difficult to stay in front of. Jones is capable of going both right and left without a slower direction, which is something that can plague other slashers. He uses the combination of a lethal shot-fake and threat of exploding past defenders to his advantage, helping him also step backwards to create space. Along with the overall burst, he has the skill to use a variety of moves to weave in and out of defenses, including a reliable spin move. With the pump fake to make it so that he can punish a defender on the slightest of twitches in falling for the fake, Jones is quick to throw defenders out of position and/or off their balance. This has played a key role in Jones having a massive boost to his free throw trips, attempting just under 7 free throws per game, up from a previous career high of just under 3 free throws per game. Combined with improved shooting touch that has helped him at the line, it’s easy to see why the offensive upside is so high.

In the 6th clip, Jones gets blocked on a drive right after using his up-fake to blow by his man, but he doesn’t get much lift, ultimately leading to a blocked shot. However, Jones has the intelligence to know the clock is low and didn’t reset, which leaves him alone behind the defender for an easy two points with a quick release at the rim off the short lob. While the lack of lift is its own concern, the ability to immediately make up for it and not lose points on a play like this stands out as a checked box in the feel for the game field. 

Going a bit backwards on the offensive end, another thing in these clips that stood out, especially in the 4th video is how hard he crashes the boards to win plays most players don’t bother with, since the memo for most players in both the NBA and college is to get back on defense to prevent a numbers disadvantage in transition. Like several successful rebounding wings, David Jones doesn’t quit on plays, which allows for more easily achieved second chance points. Not only does Jones win the rebound through 3 UAB players, but he also uses his head fake to get his man in the air and draw a trip to the free throw line.

Lastly for the offense, notice in almost all of these clips the different stride types that Jones uses and applies. This generally can be seen when he decelerates as he gets closer to the rim, using both short and long strides with different gather steps. The creativity he uses as a slasher is what makes him difficult to defend every night, and this trait is a key part of why every game he has played in has been a double digit scoring outing.

Moving to the defensive end, Jones has quick feet, good length, and a strong motor which allows him to match up against guards, wings, and forwards. In this game, he didn’t get many, if any, opportunities to defend one-on-one on an island, but instead he made an impact through the passing lanes. This goes hand-in-hand with Jones’ career 1.6 SPG and career best 2.2 SPG on the season. In order to prove the steals are not just him gambling and sacrificing defense, but rather he will have to prove that this is a true indicator of defensive upside. With good physical tools, Jones can handle drives well while also forcing turnovers, but he will need to prove that he is a good team defender.

Jones’ ability to turn defense into offense was a separating ability in this game, and it’s no coincidence that some of his highest scoring games of the season were also some of his highest steal totals of the season. Additionally, Jones currently is the top steal-getter in the American Athletic Conference, recording both the most steals per game and steal percentage. Furthermore, Jones is the only player 6’5 or taller who qualifies under the “true high major” category, per Bart Torvik, that has both a 3% or better steal percentage, along with high volume (10 3PA/100 possessions), which could give him some 3&D upside as he irons out his defensive tendencies. 

Overall, look for Jones to start climbing draft boards as March Madness approaches. Jones’ scoring variety and creativity will always pop, along with his motor and defensive playmaking. Memphis will need to make noise, if not win, the AAC Conference Tournament in Fort Worth to make the NCAA Tournament. Despite being 22-8 heading into Monday, Memphis is still on the outside looking in as a bubble team. If Jones can propel a heroic AAC Tournament run, which will likely have to run through Florida Atlantic and South Florida, his name will start popping up on more mock drafts and big boards. Jones will be 23 on opening night of next season, so scouts may dismiss him in the coming months. This paves the way for him to be one of the top sleepers in the 2024 NBA Draft.