Terrence Jones could (and should) start at PF for Rockets
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle was asked on Twitter recently who he thought the starting power forward would be this season, and he responded that his early guess is Jones.
Jones could be a nice piece next to offseason prize Dwight Howard, who is sure to man the paint on both sides of the floor. Jones' all-around game combined with his burly build is reminiscent of Josh Smith, who often plays as a sort of small/power forward hybrid and likes to have the ball in his hands on the perimeter. Jones does not need to hang in the paint to be effective, which will give both him and Howard an opportunity to play where they are comfortable. Other players expected to get minutes at power forward - such as Omer Asik and Greg Smith - are not effective from the perimeter and would not be as complementary to Howard.
I really liked Jones' game when he was coming out of Kentucky, so I'm very excited about the prospects of him getting an opportunity to start. He has great ball handling ability for his size, and is often able to blow right by opposing power forwards with the ball in either hand. When guarded by smaller defenders, he can back them down for easy scores in the post. He is tenacious on the offensive glass, often cleaning up his own misses a la Carmelo Anthony. His jump shot is not entirely consistent, but he is able to knock it down from time to time, with the ability to stretch out to the arc once in a while. He plays hard-nosed, aggressive defense, and has the size and athleticism to defend a number of different positions effectively.
Though his rookie numbers look abysmal, consider how few minutes he played. It's tough to get a real sense of how good he was given such a small sample size (276 minutes), but I'll still throw out Jones' averages per 36 minutes - 13.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 steals, and 2.0 blocks. He also shot 45.7% from the field. As I said, it is a very limited sample size, but you can see his potential to become a five-category player.
It's also worth noting that Jones averaged 19.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 30.9 minutes across 24 D-League games last season.
Plenty of NBA players take a season or two to blossom, especially when they leave school early. I ranked Jones as the No. 4 prospect in his draft class at the time he was drafted, and I still believe he could maximize on his potential and become a stud that just might take the Rockets to another level, though that may be an additional year or so down the road. As for now, I'm hoping that Jones gives a strong enough showing in training camp to earn the starting job, and that head coach Kevin McHale gives him starters minutes. If the team puts faith in him, I believe he will make them very happy that they did.