Perry Jones Witnessed The NBA Being A Business As He Went From Starter And Carrying The Oklahoma Thunder To Playing 5 Minutes Or Not At All

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Perry Jones after the 74-73 Wurzburg win in Giessen, Germany in 2021

After playing his first two professional seasons with the Oklahoma Thunder amassing 108 games, but averaging only 9 minutes per game, Perry Jones may have thought going into his third season that three might be a charm. After not being much of a factor in his first two seasons where his talent just wasn´t used right or rewarded, he entered his third season having the basketball God having an eye on him. He had played a very potent NBA Summer League averaging 12,3ppg and 5,3rpg and had a strong training camp and then was thrusted into the starting line up as NBA superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had been sidelined with injuries. So there he was opening night in the starting lineup against Portland, but had a game to forget scoring only 3 points and shooting 1/9. But he didn´t let that poor performance discourage him as he rebounded exploding for a career high 32 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists on 10/17 shooting against the Los Angeles Clippers in his second game. He was the best player on the court as he battled iconic names like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan of the Clippers. The Thunder lost to the Clippers, but in the next game, Jones helped lead his team to a 102-91 win over Denver netting 23 points. He continued to log many minutes and scored 16 points in a loss against Brooklyn. Then in his fifth game misfortune hit him something that would plague him his whole career as he got injured against Toronto on November 4th, 2015. Then came possibly the turning point in his career that derailed his further career in the NBA. He was out a month and then returned and got the shock of his life when he had a meeting with head coach Scott Brooks. Jones often thinks back to this moment and wonders how his NBA career would have gone had he not been injured. “I came back from my injury and was at practice. We were playing 3-3 drills and coach was telling players their role. Coach then came to me and said from now on you will play 5 minutes or not at all. I remember wondering wait a minute I was holding the team down before my injury and now all I´m going to get is 5 minutes? It was a mental roller coaster and something that was tough to deal with”, stressed Perry Jones. It would be his last season in the NBA as Perry Jones witnessed the NBA being a business as he went from starter and carrying the Oklahoma Thunder to playing 5 minutes or not at all.

                Perry Jones was born on September 24th, 1991 in Winnsboro. Louisiana. He began his basketball career at Duncanville high school and helped lead his team to the Texas 5A championship game where they lost to Cedar Hill high school 59-51 and finished with a 23-9 record. He belonged to the best players in the country as he was rated #7 in the ESPN 100, was #9 in the class of 2010 by scout.com and was seen as the #9 by rivals.com. He topped of his high school career getting the massive recognition being named to the 2010 Mcdonalds All-American team. He then played at Baylor University from 2010-2012 playing a total of 63 NCAA games. In his freshman season he played 30 games averaging 13.9ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 66.4%. In his senior year he played 33 games averaging 13.5ppg, 7.6rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT: 69.6%. His biggest achievement in his two year NCAA career was reaching the big dance in 2012. Baylor went on to defeat South Dakota State, Colorado and Xavier. In the Elite 8, they had the massive task of facing powerhouse Kentucky that had future NBA players like Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb, Darius Miller, Terence Jones, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer and Michael Gilchrist. Baylor had a very potent starting 5 with Jones, Qunicy Acy, Pierre Jackson, Quincy Miller-Scott and Brady Heslip, but it just wasn´t enough against Kentucky on that day losing 82-70. Jones had a solid last NCAA game scoring 17 points and hauling down 8 boards. Would Baylor have won had they slowed down Gilchrist better who had 19 points from the bench? “I think so. We could of done a lot of things better, but that is how the cookie crumbles. If I had to do it all over, I would pick us to win it”, stated Perry Jones. He witnessed the future NBA superstar Anthony Davis who had a great game against them scoring 18 points, hauling down 11 rebounds and swatting away 6 balls. Many saw the big man´s talent, but Jones wouldn´t have been able to make any predictions in 2012 about where the journey of Davis would go. “I was still naïve in college. I wouldn´t have been able to say anything then. It is cool how his career has gone. I think that being able to join team USA right after school really helped his career. He was able to soak in so much from the superstars”, stressed Perry Jones. In his senior year he scored in double figures in 21 games and registered 10 double doubles. His best scoring games occurred against Kansas State where he had 31/11 stats in a win, 28 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in an exciting 86-83 win over BYU and 28 points in a victory over Prairie View A&M. He remembers head coach Scott Drew helping him progress from the NCAA to the pro ranks. “He was the same with all the players and wasn´t hard on me. He had good defensive schemes and made everyone feel comfortable on offense. He just knew what to do”, remembered Perry Jones. The list of achievements didn´t slow down in the NCAA as he garnered All-Big 12 2nd Team -11, Big 12 All-Rookie Team -11, NABC Division I All-District 8 2nd Team -11, 12, All-Big 12 3rd Team -12, Big 12 All-Tournament Team -12 and Big 12 Tournament Finalist -12

           Jones had many one on one battles at Baylor (NCAA) with teammate Anthony Jones and won most of them was seen as a 2012 Lottery pick, but instead slipped dramatically being chosen #28 by the Oklahoma Thunder. In his rookie season he had many assignments with the Tulsa 66ers (D-League) playing 19 games averaging 13.4ppg, 6.9rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 68.3%, but also played 38 NBA games averaging 2,3ppg and 1,6rpg. In the D-league he scored in double figures in 13 games and had 3 double doubles. He had some monster games registering 26 points against Canton, 25/16 against Texas and scored 21 points twice against Sioux Falls. He made his NBA debut on November 2 notching 2 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist in 5 minutes in a win over Portland. He scored in double figures only once logging 39 minutes in the second to last game of the season against Milwaukee putting up 14/9 stats. He was on a team that had two great players with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant and other bona fide players like Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka and you would assume he had some kind of rookie wake up call, but he didn’t. ‘I was a good rookie. I really had no problems. Of course when guys needed something, I would get it. But there were no pink back packs or hazing. I also didn’t get my car filled with popcorn’, joked Perry Jones. In his second season with the Thunder the American played a full season in the NBA playing 70 games and averaging 3,2ppg and 1,8rpg and his minutes increased from 7 to 11. ‘I had a few more chances in my second season, but in the end not enough. I was playing behind too many other players and there just wasn’t any room for me. Everybody was established. I needed to have gone to a place where a team needed a piece and where I could get minutes and develop further’, stated Perry Jones. He scored in double figures in five games including netting 13 points in a win against Utah and getting 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in a victory over Philadelphia. He then played 39 minutes and scored 9 points in the 5 game playoff series loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He battled against future legends like Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginoboli and Kwahi Leonard. This was by far one of his best experiences of the season. ‘To be honest every game in the NBA was an experience. But seeing how the Spurs played basketball was totally different. I was like a fan seeing all these legends. All I needed was popcorn. Seeing 1-1 how the Spurs communicated really does wonders for a young player. It was magical for me’, warned Perry Jones. He had a very strong NBA Summer League campaign with the Oklahoma Thunder in 2014 averaging 12.3ppg, 5.3rpg, 0.5apg, 0.8spg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 47.4%, FT: 66.7%. In his third NBA season he then proceeded to play 41 NBA games averaging 4.6ppg, 1.9rpg. But this season was a very tough one for him, because off the court he had other issues. His game suffered because he wasn’t getting enough rest as he often drove 3 hours to Dallas to visit his sick cousin Trequan Blocker. ‘This experience made me stronger as a man. I did what I needed to do. He meant so much to me and I just had to do it. I knew that basketball would still be there for me. This was a mental and emotional roller coaster for me’, remembered Perry Jones. All in all, the American played 143 NBA games averaging 3,4ppg, and 1,8rpg. Even if he was never able to establish himself in the NBA, he wouldn’t trade the experience with anything. ‘I had some good times. I don’t really see it as having played many games. I clocked in and played 20 seconds in some games, but it all counts even if my average would go down. I thought that I learned a lot and became a better player. I showed that I could play scoring 32 points against the Clippers. It was just really tough not playing as much’, stressed Perry Jones.

Guys reach the NBA, but many can´t say that they were teammates with guys like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Westbrook often gets criticized by the media, but teammates have a totally different opinion of the eccentric guard who lives triple doubles. “He was of the coolest guys that I have met. I remembered one day he came in and had shoes for everyone from the janitor all the way to the chef. He really looked out for everyone. I remember when I was guarding him in practice, he would still have same speed after two and a half hours. It was crazy and unrealistic seeing that. I tried to learn as much from him as possible. Russell was always the first in the gym. I remember at the first practice, I came extra early, but he and Durant had already worked out. Russell had this amazing competitiveness that would show in practice. He would stop plays in practice. That is how competitive he was”, stated Perry Jones. The American also remembers one experience with Kevin Durant where he saw the whole spectrum of what an amazing player he really is. “I remember the first day that we had open gym. Coach told me to guard Durant. I was on him and he took two steps past half court, went to his left and took a fade away jumper with one leg going out of bounds. I was in his face, but it was nothing but net. I thought Damn that´s Kevin Durant. He had some 50 and 40 point games that season. I would like to take some credit for making it tough on him in practice which made it easier for him in games”, smiled Perry Jones. Some guys that have been in the NBA never played against Kobe Bryant, but Jones had the pleasure of playing against him every season and remembers him in the best way. “Unfortunately I never had a 1-1 situation with him. His knowledge of the game was OD and Similar to Lebron. He would know every play after the game. I remember him shooting a fade away over Andre Roberson and missing. He was so mad about missing. I never guarded him. I was in the front row and needed some popcorn”, commented Perry Jones.

            Jones who lists ex Boston Celtic Jared Sullinger as being his toughest cover in the NCAA was signed by the Boston Celtics for the 2015-2016 season, but then played for the Iowa Energy (D-League) playing 5 games averaging 13.2ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 39.2%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 71.4%. This was probably his toughest season as so many hardships came together ending his season very early. “I broke my hip and my cousin had just passed away. We had been together since birth. A week later Boston cut me. It was tough times for me. Everything crashed down on me like at the snap of a finger. I couldn´t escape my problems with basketball. I wasn´t the same player as my mind was bouncing off the wall. I had been working out with Tracy McGrady during the summer and then this happened”, remembered Perry Jones. The 2016-2017 season was also a tough one as he was briefly with BC Khimky Moscow Region (Russia-VTB) playing 1 VTB United League game and then moved to the Iowa Energy (D-League) finishing the season with them playing 24 games averaging 6.9ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 41.0%, 3PT: 20.2%, FT: 72.2%. “The Khimky coach didn´t like me. It was tough coming back from a broken hip. I didn´t give it time to rehab. I just did a bad job of taking care of my body before committing to Khimky. I remember I had problems running in the mountains as it bothered my hip. I just couldn´t play the way I could. When I left Russia, I knew I had problems with my hip. It effected my play in the D-League”, said Perry Jones. In the 2017-2018 season he played with the Iowa Wolves (NBA G League) playing 26 games averaging 10.7ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 72.0%. He scored in double figures in 15 games and had one double double. He had some strong performances against South Bay scoring 24 points and hit Eire Bay for 20 points. In the summer of 2018 he played only one game with the Minnesota Timberwolves at the NBA Summer League. He was very close to getting a contract, but once again misfortune happened. “I was in talks of getting a contract, but then the last practice before the Summer League, I bumped knees with a player. I reinjured my quad. My knee was a balloon. Minnesota wanted to give me a chance, but I was hurt again”, expressed Perry Jones. One can say that his NBA career and staying was very much affected by his injuries. “I broke my hip my first year. Then in my second season I tore my quad. My last year I rolled my ankle back. The Pelicans had called, but I was hurt again”, added Perry Jones. Even if he missed the entire 2018-2019 season, it was a blessing in disguise as he played with the Enemies in the Big 3. “I have had a few season ending injuries in my career. Many thought I was done, but then I played in the Big 3. I was working out with so many great players like Gilbert Arenas. This experience helped me find my game again. I think that if I hadn´t had the Big 3 opportunity that I may not have found a job”, warned Perry Jones.

            The American who lists his five best teammates of all-time with James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Quincy Acy and Pierre Jackson came to Europe in 2019 signing with Bursaspor Durmazlar (Turkey-BSL) and playing 21 games averaging 13.6ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 83.8%. One often hears of Americans coming over and having extreme adjustment problems due to culture and language, but that wasn´t the case for him. Going to a team being the lone American can be troubling, but when there are more Americans on board, it makes the whole overseas experience easier. “My time there was exciting. I was lucky to be teammates with Chris Jones a guy that I have known most of my life. That made my time there a lot more comfortable. I wanted to play somewhere where I knew somebody. I also had known Allerik Freeman. We had a great group of guys”, remembered Perry Jones. In his first season in Turkey, he scored in double figures in 16 games including 27 points against ITU BB, 25 points against Fenerbahce and 20 points against Tofas. It wasn´t only the Americans that he felt comfortable with, but also UK player Gabriel Olaseni who has crafted a fine professional career. “Gabe has been one of the most professional guys that I have ever met. He is a great dude that helped keep my head straight. I could always go to him if I had a problem. He is such a smart guy and he always knew how to make me feel better. He was a good anchor for me as a big man”, stressed Perry Jones.

            So let´s fast forward to the 20-21 season. He like everyone else on earth had to deal with COVID-19 and somehow got through it even if it was challenging at times. “I had a lot going on. My wife was pregnant and we were looking for a new apartment. I usually am in California during the off season, but this was the first time that I was in Texas. It was hard finding work out people, but I managed and did the best that I could. It was tough being at home, because the people don´t follow the protocols as well as people do in Europe. In Texas you don´t have to wear masks. I also didn´t see my daughter for a few months. I put a lot of perspective on family”, remembered Perry Jones.  Jones who list his personal NBA Mount Rushmore with legends like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Shaq and Tracey McGrady began the season in Turkey with Bursaspor Durmazlar (Turkey-BSL) playing 10 Eurocup games averaging 7.2ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.4apg, 2FGP: 52.8%, 3FGP: 35.7%, FT: 80.0%; and played 11Turkish BSL games averaging 6.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.2apg, 2FGP: 59.0%, 3FGP: 20.8%, FT: 60.0%. It was definitely a time to forget for him. “I had miscommunication with the team. I wanted to see my daughter be born and I missed a flight. We were in disagreement from the start and then everything crumbled down before the season even started. I wasn´t part of the system. I missed some of training camp and everything felt like bad blood”, remembered Perry Jones.

            Jones who last watched the classic Matt Damon movie Bourne Identity left Turkey and signed in Germany with the s.Oliver Wurzburg in February 2021. The club is in no mans land, a place not in danger of moving down, but also far away from the playoffs. He has played only 6 games, but twice against top team FC Bayern Munich where he was reunited with ex teammate wade Baldwin. “It was nice seeing him again. He has grown on and off the court. Seeing him is like family. I was thrown into the fire playing against him in my first BBL game. I wasn´t in great shape yet”, added Perry Jones. He is on a team that has many talented Americans, but also very skilled young German players. He is teammates with American Cameron Hunt who hails from the same Texas home town as Jones from Duncanville. Despite coming from the same town, they didn´t know each other, but Jones is very well aware that Hunt is living that special Cinderella story. “This is the first time I saw him. I have been living in California for a while and wasn´t in Duncanville for a while. He is a great example of a guy taking advantage of corona. Many guys don´t have jobs and Corona helped make space for him. He can play and definitely was overlooked. He is producing and showing that he can play at a high level. Corona definitely helped his career”, warned Perry Jones. Jones has many talented young German teammates and one guy he has been impressed with is Jonas Weitzel. “He has a soft touch and is like a sponge. He is one of most coachable guys I have ever seen. He works very hard every day. It isn´t easy for him having me and Murphy Holloway also at his position. But I´m sure that he will grow into something special”, stressed Perry Jones. Currently he is averaging 7,5ppg, 5,2rpg, and 1,2apg. It hasn´t been an easy start for him, but he is confident that the club and he will make strides until the end of the season. “Our goal is to make the playoffs. I am still trying to find my niche and there are many young players. I am still adjusting to playing with new teammates and I´m sure that I will manage”, stated Perry Jones. His has vast experience and his leadership skills should help the team as well as other assets. “I need to find my game on the offensive end. I´m not a catch and shoot type of guy. I want to use every element of my game so I can play the way I know how”, warned Perry Jones. His time in the NBA is more than 5 years ago and he has began a new chapter in his professional career and continuing to develop as a player. But this weekend, the NBA will be on his mind again when he enters the floor in Giessen. Two weeks ago Diante Garrett had an NBA reunion with Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Chris Babb and this weekend a new one with Perry Jones. Both guys have some things in common as both were named to the All-Big 12 Second Team in college and battled each other in the NBA. In Jones´s second season with Oklahoma, he played three times against Garrett who was with the Utah Jazz as he had his number having a 2-1 record. When he sees Garrett wheeling and dealing on the court again, he may look back on his NBA career again and wonder why his supreme athleticism wasn´t put to proper use by the Oklahoma Thunder. “I felt I wasn´t able to show what I could really do on the court with my game. The Thunder saw what I could do when I scored 32 points against the Clippers. Coach just didn´t know where to put me”, stressed Perry Jones. It will be interesting to witness who wins the ex NBA duel in Giessen. Both guys showed that they could play in the NBA. Jones has crazy athleticism that wasn´t appreciated in the NBA, but it is something that he could flaunt in Europe. He just needs to show it.

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