Don’t We Already Have Dahntay Jones?
Posted by Zach Lowe on Jun 26, 2009
Stephen A. Smith was making all sorts of news Monday on the Twitter, including one post predicting–nay, PROCLAIMING!–the C’s are targeting Dahntay Jones in free agency. (Hat tip: CelticsBlog).
To which I immediately responded: We already have Dahntay Jones. His name is Tony Allen. The main differences between them are that a) Jones is two inches taller and a slightly better athlete; b) he shoots more jumpers even though he’s almost as bad at making them; c) he’s a bit–a bit–less turnover prone; and d) he has a solid record of violence against Kobe Bryant. (I keed, I keed!)
I know what you’re thinking: We need a back-up to Paul Pierce, and Tony Allen has proven incapable of playing that role consistently. And perhaps those two inches make Jones a more credible small forward defensively than Tony Allen. You might be right. There’s just nothing (well, almost nothing) in Jones’s brief NBA record to suggest that. He’s played the huge majority of his minutes at shooting guard, not small forward, according to 82games.com stats from his ’09 campaign with Denver and his ’07 season with Memphis. (Jones played limited minutes in just 25 games with the Kings in 2008, so I’m tossing out those numbers. You can view them here if you want). Our fellow TrueHoop Networker Jeremy Wagner of the Nugs blog Roundball Mining Company confirms Jones rarely guarded small forwards and generally didn’t have the best things to say about Dahntay’s overall ability.
Of course, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony gobbled up the bulk of the minutes at the three spot for Memphis and Denver. But even so: When his coaches put Jones in the game, they played him at the two spot.
Let’s compare Tony Allen and Jones by their numbers from last season:
Tony Allen Dahntay Jones
PER 12.9 9.0
FG% 48.2% 45.8%
% of FGAs that were Js 39% 50%
FG% on Jumpers 28.2% 39.8%
Turnover Rate 18.8% 14.5%
DRB Rate 10.7% 8.7%
FTAs/36 minutes 4.4 3.8
Three-pointers 6-27 11-17
Offensive Rating 98 105
Defensive Rating 100 110
One note: Last year was a bit of an aberration for Tony Allen in terms of his jump-shooting. In 2008, half his field goal attempts were jumpers, and he made 41 percent of them; the year before that, about 45 percent of his attempts were jumpers, and his effective FG% on those shots was about 37 percent.
Those hit rates aren’t great, but TA isn’t as godawful on jump shots as he was last season. Jones, on the other hand, has been pretty consistent as a shooter, making just below 40 percent of his jump shot attempts in each of last four season. He did attack the rim more with Denver; before last season, about 60 percent of his field goal attempts were jumpers, according to 82games. (See here, here and here).
Another note: That 110 defensive rating is probably not fair to Jones. He’s a better defensive player than that, and D-Rating is about 80 percent dependent on team performance. (Then again, Denver was a top-10 defensive team this season, and Jones’s teams have fared a bit worse defensively with him on the floor in three of his last four seasons, according to those 82games links above).
A deeper look at Jones’s individual defense via Basketball Prospectus shows Jones guarded some really, really great players and managed to hold them about two percent below their normal productivity levels–a not insignificant accomplishment.
In any case, it’s hard from these numbers to see the point in spending any money to bring Jones here–not with the budget as tight as it is. He has the potential to be a more valuable player than TA on both ends, and he could grow into a useful back-up for Pierce. But I’m not comfortable spending any of the team’s mid-level exception on an unproven player who duplicates the (limited) skills of someone already sitting on Boston’s bench.
I could maybe–maybe–see spending the team’s bi-annual exception (about $2 million) on Jones, but that would mean the C’s could not use it the following season, and I’m not sure Jones is worth even giving up that opportunity.
A bit of a pro-Jones counter argument, after the jump.
There is one main reason you might take a look at Jones: It’s not going to be easy to find an ideal back-up for Pierce on the free agent market. Most of the available small forwards are either out of our price range (Odom, Ariza, Artest, Marion), questionable defenders (Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Kyle Korver), unproven/not very good players (Walter Herrmann, Ike Diogu, Ime Udoka, Stephen Graham, Darius Miles, Justin Reed) or restricted free agents likely to re-sign with their current teams (Jamario Moon, Marvin Williams).
It’s just not going to be that easy to find a 6’6”-6’8” guy who can play defense, attack the rim and hit open jump shots. Of the players likely to be available in the C’s price range, Hill fits the job description most closely.
(Note: One guy not listed there is Josh Childress, because no one seems to know what in the hell is going on with him).
So, sure, go ahead and kick the tires on Dahntay Jones. But the moment he asks for more than the bi-annual exception, run away.