Ken put up a FanShot on Saturday that linked to one of the stories Bullets Forever (SBN's Washington Wizards blog) did over the weekend about Dominique Jones. Here's the other, in which Mike Prada gathered some quotes from Jones after his workout in Washington and added in a little bit of his own analysis. I wanted to provide some counterpoints and some of my thoughts on both parts of the story.
Here was Mike's breakdown of what DoJo did at USF:
Here's a guy that had to do everything for a horrendous South Florida team to even have a chance at winning games. He was double-teamed like crazy and forced to shoot so many bad shots to bail out his team when nobody else could get open. He couldn't play off the ball because his team didn't have anyone who could deliver him shots. He had to play defense at a high level because nobody else on his team could. In short, he was significantly better than his teammates. And yet, despite all those things working against him, he nearly led South Florida to an improbable NCAA Tournament berth. It's safe to say very few prospects can say they accomplished as much as Dominique Jones did last year.
That's the good news. But here's the problem: in terms of his NBA prospects, Jones developed some bad habits along the way. He had to shoot a lot of bad shots to get his team back into games, and as Jonathan Givony writes, that pressure often caused him to exhibit poor shot selection in spots where it wasn't merited. The entire South Florida offense was him, so he never learned how to properly play off the ball. His decision-making wasn't always great because, frankly, even a bad decision by him was often better than a good decision by one of his crappy teammates.
It's fair to say Jones was significantly better than his teammates, and that often having him try and make something out of nothing was at least as likely to work as setting up a play for someone else. But I wouldn't call them "horrendous." If Jones was largely the same player in 2008-09 as he was this past year (which he was), and the Bulls improved from 8 wins to 20 this season (which they did), then he must have received SOME help from his teammates. He got help on offense from Mike Mercer, who was the only other guy on the team who was capable of getting to the basket, and from Jarrid Famous, who cleaned up messes nicely. And there was help on defense from Anthony Crater, who was actually the best defender on the team, though Jones was certainly no slouch. The true defensive weakness was on the interior. If players got into the lane, there wasn't much left to stop them. For further study, watch the second half of the game at Notre Dame, or the entire St. John's game.
As for shooting a lot of bad shots, that's more or less true, for the reasons he cited. No one was particularly good at outside shooting, and since Jones stunk the least, he usually was the one taking them whether they were good shots or not. It's also worth noting that a lot of them came with the shot clock on his back because the offense was so stagnant.
Then came the "Dominique Jones Tosses His Teammates and Coaches Under the Bus Then Backs Up and Runs Over Them Again" portion of the story:
At one point, one reporter asked him about which player was the best he played against in college. Jones name-dropped West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler, Syracuse's Wesley Johnson and Villanova's Scottie Reynolds (in that order), but immediately added that "you can never really measure how good someone is because of the team they have surrounding them compared to the team I had surrounding me."
"There's a lot of things that I can do that I wasn't able to show in college, because of the team that I was on and the talent surrounding me," he said later. "I feel like if I can take guys like that and go beat teams in the top 10, the top 20, then if I get some other pros, I can make some good things happen."
"That's something some other guys have an advantage over me, because they're used to it. They had the coaching on how to be an NBA player, and I feel like I'm raw talent."
Mike didn't say anything about the context of those quotes in his story. But it's there and it's ugly. Part of me wonders if this sudden willingness to badmouth his former teammates and coach is a strategic tack from Jones and his agent to try and boost his draft stock. Stretch the truth a little bit, and talk up the idea that he carried the Bulls on his own, and maybe GMs further up the draft order will buy into it and select him. It's not entirely true, but hey - we're little old South Florida playing basketball in the shadows where supposedly no one was watching. It could work. What's more, it's the most likely way to improve his draft stock to his stated goal of being picked in the top 15.
Of course, the downside is that he comes off thinking he's entitled before he's even played in the NBA. And if it isn't posturing, then ripping into your old program barely a week after officially cutting ties to them is pure sorriness. I hope he knows what he's doing.
Here's the entire video of DoJo's post-workout scrum in Washington: