The 2013-2014 regular season was one of the most exciting basketball seasons for Rockets fans in the last 20 years. James Harden was one of the league’s leading scorers, Dwight Howard was relatively healthy and looked dominant at times, and Chandler Parsons blossomed into one of the better players in the league.
One important question coming into the season had to do with the power forward position. The Rockets tried out the twin-tower lineup of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik, but that didn’t work out well early on. It came down to Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones, and it was Jones that took the starting job and ran away with it.
Jones finished the season averaging 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field. He burst onto the scene in January, finishing the month averaging 15.8 points and 9.6 rebounds in 12 games, seeing his minutes go up to over 33 per game. He slowed down a bit afterwards, though finished the season strong averaging 14.6 points in nine April games.
Unfortunately for Jones and the Rockets they were paired with the Portland Trail Blazers. Just looking back at the regular season you would realize that Jones was not going to fare well v.s. Lamarcus Aldridge and the Blazers. In three regular season games against the Blazers, Jones had averaged just over 16 minutes and four points in three games.
Jones was in the starting lineup for game one and finished the game with 12 points and 13 rebounds. However, Jones’ opposing starting PF, LaMarcus Aldridge, owned the Rockets for 46 points in a Blazers OT win. It was evident that Jones couldn’t handle the bigger, stronger Aldridge himself. Coach McHale was forced to lower Jones’ minutes as the series went on, eventually taking him out of the starting lineup completely in favor of Omer Asik.During the 2014 playoffs as a whole, Jones averaged just 7.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in around 23 minutes of action per game. What looked liked an improvement during the season, suddenly became a problem for the Rockets in the playoffs. Jones was excellent in the playoffs, but was too small to go up against Aldridge, forcing the Rockets to play their “twin towers” lineup, something they hadn’t done much of since the beginning of the season.
Even when Jones was switched onto Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, or Joel Freeland he struggled on the defensive glass, allowing second chance opportunities for the Blazers. The bigger Lopez specifically, was able to have his way with Jones.
Jones had his club option exercised for next season and has another relatively cheap club option for the 2015-2016 season as well. Unfortunately for the Rockets, the Western Conference is filled with much better power forwards, and ones that Jones would have a difficulty defending in a seven-game series. Had the Rockets beaten the Blazers, they were looking at Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki in the next round, and then one of Blake Griffin or Serge Ibaka. Chris Bosh would have likely been waiting in the NBA Finals.
Though Terrence Jones was a huge bright spot for the Rockets this past season, they could still use a bigger, stronger power forward, or one that can consistently knock down shots from beyond the arc. The NBA playoff contenders are filled with more-skilled power forwards and the Rockets could seek an improvement. Jones is likely at one of his highest values and can be a good trading chip if the Rockets want to look elsewhere at the power forward position.
The 22-year old showed much promise this season but still has work to do, especially on the defensive end of the court.
Do you the time is right to trade Jones or is he the future at power forward?