The allure of the unknown within the Golden State Warriors organization is perhaps strongest regarding Damian Jones.
On a championship roster that boasts such formidable depth, opportunities for young players can be scarce. Jones is penciled in as the third string center behind Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee, but visions of what he would be able to do with increased playing time previously ran rampant when the roster was still in flux.
It wasn’t clear at the beginning of the offseason that Pachulia or McGee would re-sign with the team, and Jones was on the verge of being delegated more responsibility for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.
With Pachulia and McGee back, it remains to be seen how much Jones will be utilized by the coaching staff next season.
Right before the 2016 NBA Draft, he tore his right pectoral muscle during a workout, but the Warriors were still intrigued enough by his talent to take him 30th overall.
With the success general manager Bob Myers has had in building through the draft with picks like Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Draymond Green, it gives Jones extra credibility that the Warriors were willing to take a chance on him.
Scouting Report on Damian Jones
Like Ezeli, Jones is a center from Vanderbilt taken at pick number 30. Jones stands at 7’0’’ and weighs 245 LBS.
He split time between the NBA and the D-League last season. He saw action in 10 NBA games and averaged 8.5 minutes per game.
It’s an extremely small sample size to project what he can ultimately accomplish at this level, but he possesses vast potential.
His nearly 7’4’’ wingspan and impressive athleticism indicate that there is a solid probability that he can develop into a reliable rim protector on the defensive end. He also has quick feet and can stay with perimeter players on pick-and-roll switches.
Shot-blocking seemed to come more naturally to him at Vanderbilt than rebounding. For a center as large and athletic as he is, he wasn’t as dominant of a rebounder in college as one would expect.
However, he ranked 5th on the Warriors last season in Total Rebound Percentage, which offers a glimpse of where he can make an impact.
For some perspective, his Total Rebound Percentage last year of 14.8% is more than Paul Millsap’s career total of 14.74%. Again, it’s a very limited sample size, but certainly promising.
His offensive skill set needs more polish. He relied mainly on his athleticism to score while in college and never developed a particularly skilled post-game with the Commodores.
Only Anderson Varejao averaged fewer points per 48 minutes on the Warriors than Jones did last season, illustrating his still limited offensive game.
He didn’t especially impress as a passer coming out of college either, which is something that the Warriors count on their centers to be adept at.
The re-signings of Pachulia and McGee might end up being a blessing in disguise for Jones, even if it means less playing time for him in the foreseeable future.
It will give him another season to develop his game further with the Santa Cruz Warriors down in the NBA G League (formerly the NBA D-League). He played in 31 games for them last season.
If the team is entirely healthy, Jones probably won’t be one of the 12 active players on the roster. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Nick Young, Pachulia, McGee, David West, Omri Casspi, and Patrick McCaw are the top 12 guys.
That leaves the remaining roster spots to be filled with Jones, Kevon Looney, and Jordan Bell as the regular season approaches.
For the time being, Jones will continue to serve as an enticing vision of what the future can hold for the Warriors at the center position.