Dillon Jones isn’t a high-profile name but at Weber State he showed a high-profile game that could fit the Knicks’ versatile system.

In the history of college basketball, only one player has played at least 20 minutes per game with a usage rate of 30% while hitting 30% for both defensive rebounding and assist rates. You might be wondering who this player is because of course you would have already heard of a player achieving such impressive statistical numbers. You could assume the mainstream media has been talking about him, or at least that he would have been a big deal in the college basketball world. However, neither of those things is true for Weber State’s do-it-all wing Dillon Jones.

Context and roles are some of the most important aspects of evaluating prospects when projecting how a player will translate to the next level. That gets extremely difficult with a player like Dillon Jones who played at a small school against lesser competition and had a massive role on his team.

Players like Damian Lillard, similarly from Weber State, as well as other small school players like CJ McCollum from Lehigh and more recently Jalen Williams from Santa Clara have shown that it is possible to not only make the transition from a smaller school but to thrive. These projections are a little trickier than other prospects whose roles may be the same at both the NBA and college levels. We are far beyond the time when prospects should be questioned just for playing at a small school, but it is worth talking about what that will look like for a player like Dillon Jones.

Even from a purely physical standpoint, the Weber State prospect is an anomaly amongst the draft class. Out of every player that tested in the NBA Combine, Jones weighed in as the eighth-heaviest in the class. He also did so at 6’4.5 when the seven players ahead of him all measured at 6’8 or above. His 6’11 wingspan and +6.5 difference are both among the best for all wings who tested in Chicago.

The Big Sky Conference Player of the Year averaged 20.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 59.7 TS% with 48.9/32.4/85.7 shooting splits in his senior season in Ogden, Utah. He produced 673 points for the Wildcats, which was 28% of their total points for the season. You can compare that to a player like Dalton Knecht who produced 660 points for Tennessee which was 23% of their total offense throughout the year.

The counting stats for Jones are impressive on their own merit, but the advanced stats are even kinder to the South Carolina native. His PER of 27.9 is higher than that of any potential lottery pick outside of Donovan Clingan and his 59.7 true shooting percentage surpasses the top-rated wings in this class such as the aforementioned Knecht, Ja’Kobe Walter, and Cody Williams.

It is more than just stats and spreadsheets for Dillon Jones however, those numbers simply help put into perspective an incredibly effective and unique basketball player. Dillon Jones certainly passes the eye test as you watch him do nearly every single possible thing on a basketball court for Weber State.

It is hard to pick out what the most impressive part of Jones’ game. The 22-year-old is a true blue two-way wing prospect whose length and strength make him a versatile and switchable defender. He has quick hands and better instincts and is often able to get inside passing lanes and get his hands on balls for deflections and steals. His gaudy steal rate was especially beneficial for a transition threat such as himself.

While he still needs to work on improving his point-of-attack defense, his help defense and weak-side rim protection are more than you could typically expect from a wing of his size. Part of that comes from a relentless motor and the amount of effort that Jones puts into every possession on both sides of the ball. Similarly, when he gets a steal, Jones is more than capable of grabbing a rebound and pushing the tempo right into a fast break.

The reason that Jones is so dangerous in transition is another trait that makes him unique. Given his size and frame, you may expect Jones to live in the post or use his body to back down smaller defenders. While that is a part of his game, he also adds a tight handle and nearly elite passing ability. Jones has a rare ability to pass off the dribble and makes better skip passes than anybody else who will be in this draft.

The passing by itself is a fun trait and a nice thing to have in the arsenal, but it is opened up by a deceptively quick first step and the ability to beat his man off the dribble. Jones has a vicious downhill attack and can put his head down to get to the basket at will. That tenacity compounded with a wicked live dribble passing ability makes a very dangerous player off the dribble.

Dillon Jones shows real promise to be a three-level scorer, as he is a nasty finisher at the rim. He loves to initiate contact, has no problem finishing through contact amongst the trees, and has great touch around the basket with both hands. He also has a nice little assortment of dribble moves to create separation and get his shot off from the mid-range. He was able to get off his mid-range shots with ease and could finish over tight contests. He is comfortable with floaters and pull-ups at all levels of the court.

Three-point shooting is a bit of a question but there is more than enough reason to believe in the jumper. Dillon Jones shot 86% from the free throw line his senior year and showed an impressive 82% over his four years. Add that fact to the touch that he displays not only around the basket but out to mid-range, and you have a very compelling case to make for why the shooting will translate. Even if Jones shot only 32% from three on three and a half attempts per game, it was a difficult shot diet and not indicative of what that may look like at the next level.

The big question for me is not if Dillon Jones’ skillset will translate, it is how it will manifest into a different role at the NBA level. Dillon Jones is as versatile as any prospect in the class, which allowed him to do everything in college, simply because he could. At the next level, Jones will not have the ball in his hand nearly as much, but what could he do in a smaller role?

The passing chops and vision that he showed throughout his college career will certainly continue into his time in the NBA. However, this may be in a secondary playmaking role, or even in the short roll as a quick decision-maker. Jones should be able to keep the ball moving and help an offense get into a rhythm as a wing facilitator.

The shooting will have to become a bigger part of Jones’ game as he will not have the ball in his hand and instead will have to function in an 0ff-ball role, cutting and hitting catch and shoot threes. He will also have to continue feasting in transition, as a grab-and-go rebounder and defensive playmaker. If he can push the pace off of steals and rebounds, Jones will be able to utilize his playmaking as well as create easier offense for himself and others.

If an undersized strong wing who rebounds, defends, and pushes tempo in transition while hitting an occasional big three reminds you of anybody, it should. Dillon Jones himself, along with just about everybody else on Draft Twitter has at some point or another compared him to Josh Hart. It is not without good reason, as it is a rare archetype, basically created by Hart.

While you might say it is redundant to bring in another wing like that, a player with the energy and effort is always necessary on a team trying to compete. He is probably the Thibsiest player you can find in this class outside of Ryan Dunn. If you can bet on one skill in this draft class, let it be the effort that Dillon Jones plays with.

Where that ranks for the front offices of the NBA remains to be seen, but there is a reason he is being referred to as one of the biggest sleepers in this class. The Knicks will have three bites at the apple between picks 24 and 38, versatility should be one of the premium skills they target with those picks. We know Leon Rose has targeted older more experienced college players in the past, and we know some of the markers of productivity he has looked for over the last few years. Dillon Jones checks a lot of those boxes, could he be an option if the Knicks hold on to all three of those picks?

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