The steadiness of Tyus Jones

The steadiness of Tyus Jones

Every day, we take certain things for granted. We fail to consider what life would be like without these items. A lot of humanity even does this with the loyal, dependable people in their lives. 

In the lives of the Memphis Grizzlies, Tyus Jones is that constant. His teammates and coaching staff surely appreciate him, but outside of the organization, he is often overlooked and underappreciated. 

There are 30 starting point guards in the NBA, and Tyus is a top-30 point guard playing behind a top-two player at his position. To understand just how good Jones has been this season, let's see how he stacks up to other guards who have played 30+ games while averaging at least 20 minutes.

According to Cleaning the Glass, Jones is in the 92nd percentile in assist percentage, which is the percentage of made shots by his teammates that come from an assist by Tyus (28.4%). He is in the 94th percentile in turnover percentage, turning it over just 7.7% of the time he has the ball. Finally, he is in the 95th percentile in assist:usage rate, which is how often he gets an assist when the ball is in his hand.                                                                                                                                                                                His assist percentage is 17th amongst NBA point guards and second only behind Ricky Rubio off the bench. For anyone who has not been paying attention, Tyus is leading the NBA, again, in assist-to-turnover ratio at an absurd 6:1 rate. The second closest is Chris Paul at 4.5:1. 

Even more absurd is the fact that Jones is 10th amongst qualifying point guards in the Player Impact Estimate on PIE is simply a measure, considering most box-score components, to determine a player's impact on a game. He's not 10th amongst bench guards, he is 10th amongst all point guards in the NBA. 

While Jones is known for his intense care of the basketball, the aspect of his game that is most important for Memphis and that goes largely unnoticed is his ability to hit the floater. Among guards in the NBA who attempt at least one shot per game in the five-to-nine-foot range (floater territory) Jones ranks fifth amongst qualifying players in shooting percentage (50.7%), only trailing Paul, Jalen Brunson, Darius Garland and Derrick Rose.

Part of Jones' value is his ability to keep the ship steady when Ja Morant is off the floor for rest, or not playing at all due to injury. Jones stepped in for an injured Morant against the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 15 to the tune of 27 points and nine assists. 

In this clip, Tyus and Steven Adams run a side pick-and-roll with Adams slipping the screen and Jones hitting him with a pocket pass for the assist. 

Later in the game, Jones and Adams are back in the side pick-and-roll, but this time Jones takes the screen for one of his patented floaters.

Here the Grizzlies get in a Horns set, which often sees the point guard go off Jaren Jackson Jr.'s screen while Jaren flares out for a three. This time, Tyus comes off Adams' screen and, due to his ability to hit in the paint and the threat of Adams as a roller, Jones is able to find Ziaire Williams in the corner for a three.

Later in the first half, the Grizzlies get into another Horns set, but this time Tyus catches Jonas Valanciunas too deep in his drop coverage. The help defense is hesitant to help off of Williams in the corner, giving Tyus enough of a window to hit a mid-range jumper.

Jones is the type of player that every team would like to have. He shares the ball, plays within himself and rarely hurts the team. He is consistent and always reliable for Memphis. 

He is also in the final year of his first free-agent contract, and both Memphis and Jones will have a decision to make this offseason. Is there a market for Jones to be a starter, if that's even something he desires? In Memphis, a lot of the talk is about the vibes, and Tyus is a massive part of that. Would he take a little less to stay with this growing Memphis team, or is he seeking a pay day and a starting job for a team likely worse than the Grizzlies?

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