Is Terrence Jones The “X-Factor” For The Houston Rockets?


Every successful team has that one player that plays far better than he’s expected to and in doing so makes the team that much better as a collective unit. This player is commonly referred to as the “x factor”. For the San Antonio Spurs, this was a toss-up between Boris Diaw and Patty Mills. For the Miami Heat, that player was Chris Anderson. For the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, this was Jason Terry. Could Terrence Jones mould into the “X-Factor” for Houston? Quite possibly.

You know what you’re going to get from every other Rockets starter. Everybody already has a well-known role for this team. That is, everyone except Terrence Jones.

You don’t quite know what you’re going to get from Terrence Jones. We still have yet to learn what kind of player Terrence Jones is and will be. Ever since entering the league, Jones has grew and grew as a player. He fought his way from being a Rio Grande Valley regular to a starter on a powerhouse team in the Western Conference. That’s saying quite a lot.

Apr 23, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) dunks the ball during the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers in game two during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. The Trail Blazers defeated the Rockets 112-105. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jones was never given anything in this league. He had to scratch and claw for everything that he has today. However, in the blink of an eye he could be replaced in via trade or even by an aspiring player on the Rockets bench.

Anybody from from Donatas Motiejūnas to Kostas Papanikolaou could take his starting position on any given night. On top of that you have an aggressive GM in Daryl Morey that has shown he would be willing to upgrade at the power position when he chased after Chris Bosh this offseason. Terrence Jones’ back is against the wall. You just have to wonder if this is fueling his fire.

The former Kentucky wildcat, Jones might be the most underrated player on this roster. This could be because he isn’t the biggest of guys out on the floor. At 6’9 Terrence Jones isn’t exactly a dominant presence by any means. What he lacks in height, he makes up for in athletic ability, around the basket scoring, and rebounding. It’s easy to forget this man averaged 12 points and about 7 rebounds per game with a very impressive PER of 19.1 last season next to Dwight Howard. He also scores at a very efficient rate with a 54% field goal percentage. This young man certainly possesses some talent and he’s still has ways to go as a player. A very exciting prospect to think about if you’re a Rockets fan.

The season really took off when Terrence Jones was given his starting position. Jones replaced Omer Asik when Kevin McHale attempted to start both Dwight Howard and Asik at the same time which was a complete spacing disaster. When Jones was implemented into the line-up, the season really took off for the Rockets. He was just what the Rockets needed it when they so desperately needed it. He was a perfect compliment to Howard at the time and the wins just piled up for the Rockets as they finished the season off with 54 wins. A lot of the credit is due to Jones being the right man for the job. We tend to overlook this because we as fans are constantly looking for an even better talent for “fit” for the Rockets because we understandably think their ceiling could be higher if they had it. However, we shouldn’t overlook what we have right in front of our eyes because like Chandler Parsons, it could disappear the moment you blink.

Mar 7, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Terrence Jones (6) and center Dwight Howard (12) during the third quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

So, why is he so untalked about and overshadowed? To be quite honest, it’s his size and his defense that is often subject to ridicule. The 6’9 forward’s incapabilities shined under the bright lights of the NBA Playoffs against 6’11 LaMarcus Aldridge. Unfortunately, when we think of Jones, we think of the first two games of the series when Aldridge just completely dominated him posting up out of this world numbers and forced Kevin McHale to revert back to the Asik-Howard rotation that failed in the beginning of the season. He’s forced to take on tough assignments like this on a night in and night out basis in a stacked Western Conference, taking on the likes of Tim Duncan, Serge Ibaka, Blake Griffin, Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, and Zach Randolph virtually every night. This could very well be skewing the image of the type of defensive player he actually is.

Contrary to what people think, Terrence Jones has all the tools he needs to play defense and be a respectable two-way player. He just needs to mature a little more. He may not be the tallest power forward, but he has quite a nice 252-pound frame for his height and a 7’2 wingspan that could really come in handy when he is up against a dominant post-player like Aldridge in the future.

Jones has a freakish athleticism that was apparent since the day he was drafted. Athleticism is always the ground base for a good defensive player but players often have to utilize their athleticism in the right way and learn to take advantage of it on the defensive end. As Jones matures, his footwork will come along and we might see a much more capable defensive player in Jones. Height doesn’t have to be an excuse for Jones if he uses his body the right way. People like Zach Randolph (6’9) and Boris Diaw (6’8) have succeeded with just as much if not some less.

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If Terrence Jones manages to develop some sort of consistent jumper to add to his already decent skill set, the rest of the Western Conference is in trouble. The amount of spacing that would be provided if Jones just develops even a decent 18-foot jumper to Dwight Howard and James Harden is like offensive heaven.

You can’t really set expectations for Jones to become a star by any means but you can expect him to bring energy, rebounding, and some clean-up scoring when they need it. Anywhere from a jack of all trades like Boris Diaw or an energy man like Chris Anderson and Kenneth Faried is what you can hope to expect from Terrence Jones if he stays on this roster for the foreseeable future. His image, demeanor, and style of play just screams “x-factor”.

From the sample size we have seen from him so far, it’s seems very possible Jones could be this team’s x-factor. We just don’t know EVERYTHING he brings to the table yet but we like what we saw from his last season (apart from his defense in the playoffs of course) and we hope to see more of that this season.

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