Mason Jones Scouting Report
2020 Draft Age: 21.9 years (July 21, 1998).
Public Measurements: 6’5-6’6, 200 lbs, Wingspan N/A
Brief Public Background: Mason Jones was a late bloomer in basketball. He lost a ton of weight and went from 270 lbs to 230 in a single season in his postgrad year, which is always admirable. He then played his freshman year for Connors State College before transferring up to Arkansas. He now has slimmed to around 200 lbs, and has been playing the guard/wing position as a lead & secondary offensive initiator. He was coached by Eric Musselman, who I (and a myriad of others) definitely admire.
Injury Report: Nothing major worth noting.
Personality: Mason Jones is likable, energetic, highly self confident, a leader, and a fan favorite of the very supportive Arkansas fanbase. He enjoys talking some trash, and feeds off (and so often creates) the energy in the game. His confidence on the court is really fun to witness, and I hope it stays with him as he goes to the next level. He is a hard working, cerebral player that has demonstrated the ability to take pieces of successful players and implement them into his game. Off the court, he describes himself as a loving person, and is rather humble despite his on-court confidence. This shows itself on the court when he hypes up his teammates. If you want to dive deeper than my synopsis, I highly recommend checking out this HoopsHype Article by Bryan Kalbrosky. Bryan really did a phenomenal job of illuminating his character, and deserves your attention. Confident stars that buy in on both ends are some of my personal favorites, and he certainly fits this mold.
Athleticism: The main criticism regarding Mason’s game is his athletic limitations. His burst is really improving, but he is a not much of a vertical athlete as of now. His open court speed is actually quite good, and he runs the floor really well when he sees a scoring lane to fill. His body control is really good as well, especially around the rim. He relies mostly off of craft and herky-jerky movement to generate space (and offense in general). While success has been found at the next level regarding this method, it means that he will need to spend a ton of time developing advanced ball skills, learning advanced reads, and adding to his space generation package offensively. The larger worry is defensively, which will be covered further below.
Projected Fit: Shot Creating Sixth Man – Complementary Starting Scoring Creator
Projected Draft Landing: Late First – Second Round (Undervalued mainstream right now).
- High: Number 2 scorer & creator on a good team. Slight Defensive Plus.
- Mason continues to diversify his offensive attack and make strides as an athlete. He excels as a tough shot maker. His work ethic and cerebral play make him a potent higher usage offensive weapon that has a legitimate chance to be a high option player on a good team. Defensively, he continues sharpening his IQ and footwork to provide off-ball value consistently at a 2 stock per game level. Athletic strides help POA.
- Medium: 6th man, spot starter shot creator. Defensive Neutral.
- The median outcome for Jones would be a high option sixth man and spot starter due to his scoring package and IQ. He remains a tough shot maker. Defensively, he continues sharpening his IQ and footwork in order to provide some off-ball value consistently with occasional stock generation. Some athletic strides help POA.
- Low: Long term bench scorer. Defensive Negative.
- I believe that the worst-case scenario for Jones is that he ends up as an energy bench scorer/creator, which has value. He remains a tough shot maker. He may spend some time in the G-League depending on draft position, but I think he provides NBA value no matter where he lands, and I don’t say that lightly. He may end up a negative on defense if he doesn’t make any improvements, but will generate occasional stocks due to his ability to read opposing offenses.
Video Breakdown of Jones’ game:
Synergy based Profile:
- 3 Level Scoring:
- Scoring Gravity: Jones is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor, and generates notable gravity as a result. He is learning to leverage this gravity still, but the fact that it exists is promising. He finished in the 84th percentile out of isolation.
- Interior Scoring: Jones is a phenomenal finisher around the rim with elite body control despite not being a notable above the rim player. He finished at 75.6% around the rim, which is unquestionably elite. His ability to attack and utilize angles shows tremendous promise, and he uses his body, developing burst, and creative handle to effectively fend off defenders. His reactions are quick, decisive, and often correct as a finisher. He is able to take stronger players off the dribble as well and overwhelm them with his physicality, which is on display in the clips below vs. Anthony Edwards and Isaac Okoro.
- Free Throw Generation: Mason generated an unreal amount of free throws by implementing some Harden-esc techniques around the rim. He is the best free throw generator this year in my eyes. Mason’s .668 FTr (while shooting 9.1 free throws per game on 82.6% shooting) is a major asset to play with. Free throw generators are incredibly frustrating for opposing teams, and with the talent Jones has I do not doubt that opposing guards will have no fun guarding him. This is a great translatable skill, and one that top guards can rely on.
- Transition Offense: Jones ranked in the 90th percentile in transition, which is impressive considering the lack of elite speed and bounce. However, he is such a tremendous below the rim finisher that his lack of athletic tools are pretty well compensated for. His open court feel and awareness is impressive and translatable.
Mason Jones sons an engaged Anthony Edwards. Wow. pic.twitter.com/tku7V8L5od
— Alex Brown (@AhbAnalytics) May 3, 2020
To add on… Mason Jones has no struggles here against Isaac Okoro, a top 3 wing defender in the class (and arguable a defensive genius). pic.twitter.com/ddkZxW2AoJ
— Alex Brown (@AhbAnalytics) May 3, 2020
- Range Shooting: Mason has confidence, space creation, good touch, and NBA range off the dribble and in catch and shoot scenarios. He is a TOUGH shot maker with a high-level step-back & side step when going left. He has projectable form and a versatile enough attack to open up his slashing game. He is a career 35.8% from deep on 6.2 attempts per game at a .530 3PAr (with high degree of difficulty).
- Space Generation: His studies of Luka and Harden seem to be paying off, as Mason generates space on the perimeter at a very high level. He has that step back going left, a side step, and a generally wide array of crafty moves he can employ to get himself space (and in rhythm) on the perimeter.
- Tough Shot Making: Along with his high-level space creation, Jones can knock down difficult shots all over the court. From range, he is comfortable operating off a myriad of moves, including his step-back. While this can occasionally cause him to settle, the high degree of difficulty on his shots is worth noting. His confidence is excellent, and at his volume I imagine he will be an impactful long range weapon. He can be rather streaky, naturally.
- Improving Perimeter Movement (Off-Ball): Typically high usage players tend to struggle off the ball, but this was not always the case with Jones. He showed a lot of flashes of intelligent relocations when needed, as well as a high understanding of what his teammates were about to do. This is encouraging regarding his potential off the ball, as his usage certainly will not be as high at the next level. He did have his moments where he fell asleep off the ball. He is a relatively ineffective cutter as well.
- P&R Initiator Potential: Jones has a very diverse scoring package and creative handle. These traits provide the base for Jones to build off of as a P&R initiator. His ability to utilize screens to break down defenses will be a crucial skill to develop, as he has all the tools to be lethal in P&R. As his decision-making and skillset continue to improve, look for Jones to be a useful P&R initiator who can score in bunches as he learns to manipulate it better. While he only finished in the 67th percentile as a P&R BH, his skillset is promising for this playtype.
- Playmaking Upside: Jones has shown upside as a general playmaker due to his stronger feel and IQ, and while his decision-making is still developing, the base is there. He is a quick decision maker as well, and when he sees the right read he can really execute at a high level. He could certainly be a secondary/tertiary playmaker depending on roster construction.
Mason Jones brings gravity wherever he is on the floor, here leveraging it with a great kick out to Joe. pic.twitter.com/KledyBTbaY
— Alex Brown (@AhbAnalytics) May 18, 2020
If Jones ends up in a 6th man role (or a higher usage starter) I buy his secondary playmaking upside. The guy can pass. pic.twitter.com/Zc1VGsJTFs
— Alex Brown (@AhbAnalytics) May 18, 2020
- Impact & Efficiency: The stat sheet looks great for Jones as a volume 2, finishing with a 27.3 PER and a +8.2 OBPM & +4.2 OPIPM. His offensive impact is evident during film/live games as well.
“It’s just the people I watch, you know. I’m watching Luka. I’m watching Manu. I’m watching James Harden. As you can see, Harden is not really doing a lot of dunking. He does a lot of more finesse layups or he uses his body to get the defender off and get the fouls. That’s when I really knew I was moving to become elite at foul drawing. Like I knew I could get people to foul me when I started really watching James Harden and watching what he was doing and I started to do it. I started to add it to my game. It just skyrocketed. Once I knew that watching film can really work, I started moving into Luka and how he knows when to go to a basket, how he uses angles and how he uses his body. It’s just incredible just to watch players like Luka because he had the same thing, lack of athleticism, but he’s killing the league right now in his second year. It’s just crazy to watch how he has developed after people questioned his lack of athleticism. That’s the same boat I’m in right now. They’re downgrading me because of athleticism. But I just feel like I’m still a Top 15 player in the draft. I still feel like I was one of the Top-5 best players in college basketball. And that could be my opinion, a lot of people feel the same thing. But it just goes off production. I feel like I had the production this year. I showed that I can get to the line and I showed that I scored on all three levels in the game. Some people might say I need one more year. I’m just ready for bigger challenges. Once a team really sees it, they’re going to know that they have a special player who is capable of becoming a phenomenal player”.
- Polish: Turnovers & Forcing: As Mason climbed past a 30% usage rate this year, his turnovers naturally climbed along with it. Granted, he won’t play as high of a usage role in the NBA. It is more of execution faltering than his decision making though, both of which I expect to improve. Handle can be a bit loose at times and will need some tightening to be fully effective. Also, he tends to force the issue as a playmaker. This provides some great home run passes and some sloppy turnovers. He will see what he wants to do, but does not always have the technique needed to execute. Sometimes instead of making the home run pass, he needs to just make the extra pass. Note: His decision-making is making strides, and he is learning to leverage his scoring gravity. His initial role should limit turnovers. For now though, he has work to do in order to become a more high usage player. His shot selection also had some less than appealing flashes, but this can be said about almost all high volume guys.
- Off-Ball Engagement Lapses: While it is pretty common for volume scorers to fall asleep at times off the ball, it is worth noting that Mason falls victim to this from time to time. He was ineffective as a cutter, and worked more for the chance to get into ISOs then to get find openings. I would like to see Jones keep a consistent effort off the ball, especially since he will have to lower his usage rate at the next level.
- Streakiness: Due to the higher degree of difficulty and occasional shot selection, Jones can be rather streaky from deep. When he really gets going, good luck, because you aren’t stopping him. He tends to recognize this and modify his attack as needed. Luckily, he always has his ability to generate free throws to fall back on (and he even shot 21 in a single game).
Synergy Profile: Lots of noise, but added info.
- Off-Ball Play: As far as Mason’s decision-making goes, I believe he is a smart defender off the ball that gets caught overthinking. He makes a lot of smart reads off the ball, and also some poorer ones. I’m buying the intelligent flashes he often shows for his development moving forward. This will be crucial to polish with the additional spacing of the NBA and switch heavy defense. He makes the effort too, so I am buying his development here.
- Jumping Passing Lanes: Mason is pretty adept at reading passing lanes, and feels comfortable enough to gamble often. This has yielded mixed results. When Jones is under control and reading the offense, he can make some terrific reads as a deterrer or off-ball playmaker. When he gets out of position however, he can struggle to recover and find his place.
Really great recognition here from Mason Jones, he does a great job of anticipating passing lanes.
Some on ball kinks to work through but like his off ball upside.
Report out tomorrow pic.twitter.com/nzqlpAU0Zt
— Alex Brown (@AhbAnalytics) May 28, 2020
- Active Hands: Mason’s active hands are an asset on the defensive end. He generates strips and deflections at an solid rate, mostly from reading and reacting accordingly. His tools (athletically & physically) prevent him from being a major plus regarding defensive playmaking, but he has a good base to work with. He contests shots pretty well, and puts in the effort when he thinks he can make an impact.
- Athletic Limitations: Limitations augment technical issues that can be exploited by fundamentally strong scorers. Jones has the tendency to drop back hard in anticipation of dribble drives in order to counter his slower recovery time, thus allowing for easy pull-ups and space generation. This recovery speed is below average for a 6’5 2/3 guard, which make his gambles harder to mask. Additionally, his hips and feet do not move as quickly as I’d like for a 2/3. His limitations currently prevent him from being a guy you could reliably put in POA consistently. The best fit for Jones is off the ball as much as possible, where he can rely more effectively on his anticipation and IQ to mask his issues. However, Jones is on the rise as an athlete, and perhaps future athletic/muscle gains could improve his all around defense.
- Versatility: Mainly due to athletic limitations, Jones is primarily a 2/3 defender at best. He is not currently quick enough to contain many guards, and not strong enough to contain 4’s. He is a switch target for opposing offenses, and can really get bullied in the post. I worry about his defense translating to some positive impact as of now. He needs to make some major strides to really be effective on the ball.
- Projected Impact: Hard to see Jones as a major plus defensively right now, but he seems to be competent enough off the ball to not project as a negative. He likely will not be a plus defender initially, but has the chance to be a neutral or slight plus as he continues sharpening up that IQ. While Synergy defensive numbers may not be the most reflective of his talent on the defensive end, his great profile defensively is a positive regarding opponent PPP. Finished with a +2.0 DBPM & a +.06 DPIPM. As talented as Jones is offensively, having him as a slight positive or neutral is fine with me, as it won’t be absolutely integral for his impact. As long as he isn’t less than a (-1).
- Rim Protection: Since Jones is not much of a vertical athlete right now, he does not provide value as a rotating rim protector. While this is by no means any reason to write him off defensively, it is just important to note that he won’t be blocking many shots against NBA competition. His deterrence needs to be diversified. His lack of ability to protect the rim vs. guards and wings causes a lot of fouls to be generated (3.3 per game total).
- Communication Lapses: I’d like to see Jones talk even more defensively. Many of his lapses off the ball on the defensive end seem to be born of a lack of communication from both him and his teammates. I think he expects them to read him too often, and as nice as that sounds he needs to pick it up as a communicator at times. As this is more effectively implemented his defensive smarts could shine brighter than they did at Arkansas.
In order to provide value like the players he studies, Mason’s offensive impact needs to continue to be superb. Luckily for Jones, I believe that his offensive package will produce a positive enough impact for him to be a valuable NBA player. I also am buying stock in his ability to grow his game on both ends based on the improvements he had shown this year. The best situation for Jones would be an organization that emphasizes cerebral, system basketball (with a degree of freedom). Furthermore, he would benefit from one that could let him develop as a bench scorer initially while he catches up to the speed of the game. He also needs touches to really show his value, which could vary depending on fit and the role asked of him. I think he has a realistic path to being a top 15 player in this draft class when it is all said and done, as he has shown the mind needed to be great. I find it reasonable to project his floor as a mid-top rotation player (or high option sixth man), with the ceiling of a secondary scorer on a good team if he continues his current growth. For the potential value of his floor alone, he should be a first round selection in my eyes. His variance upside is really just determined by how hard he works at continuous improvement, and there is reason to buy the work ethic. I mean, worst case scenario you get a great bench scorer who is a leader & energy guy with legit upside & intangibles, and that is quite valuable. He is far higher on my board compared to the mainstream, and I believe he will be a valuable player for years to come.
Swing Factors: All-Around Defensive Technique, Athletic Development, P&R Initiation Skills, Role. Also, how much more will he add to his game? Really like the current trend, but how far will it go?