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30Q: Can Colby Jones crack the rotation?

The Kings depth may keep their promising rookie from finding playing time in Sacramento.
By | 10 Comments | Sep 7, 2023

Mar 4, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Xavier Musketeers guard Colby Jones (3) reacts after dunking on the Butler Bulldogs in the second half at Cintas Center. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie guard Colby Jones is in a different situation than many of the previous Sacramento Kings rookies. Keegan Murray, Davion Mitchell, and Tyrese Haliburton all had defined roles, expectations, and all-but-guaranteed playing time entering their rookie years in Sacramento, but Jones is now joining one of the deeper Kings benches in franchise history. Malik Monk, Mitchell, and Chris Duarte will be snagging the bench minutes behind De’Aaron Fox and Kevin Huerter, and even if the Kings would want to try Jones out in small-ball, multi-guard lineups, Kessler Edwards and Keon Ellis are waiting in the wings for their chances. Will Jones be able to crack the rotation in Sacramento?

The former Xavier Musketeer had some strong moments in Summer League, showcasing his ability to play on and off the ball on offense, knock down his patented floater and finish around the rim, and defend across multiple positions and play passing lanes. But across his four games in Las Vegas, he also shot just 39% from the field and 23.8% from three, and finished with a 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. While Jones is a quick, tough player, he’s not a player who creates advantages with an elite physical toolset. The speed and physicality of the NBA game will take some time and adjustments for him, something Jones talked about with Brenden Nunes earlier this summer.

The Kings can certainly afford to give Jones minutes, should his play in training camp and the preseason demand it—but they can also afford to be patient with Colby, given the veterans they have surrounding him. If guaranteed opportunities aren’t available on the Kings main roster, there would be plenty of playing time for Jones with the Stockton Kings.

I was a big fan of Jones entering the draft, and had a 1st round grade on him. His balance as Xavier’s leading shotmaker and playmaker made the Musketeers high-powered, efficient offense work, and his defensive tenacity and awareness gave him good range on defense. If he can continue to build on his deep shooting promise from last season, there’s plenty of reason to think (as Brenden put it in his scouting profile for Jones) that Colby can be a two-way connector for Sacramento for many seasons to come. But that promise may not manifest into an immediate role for Jones given Sacramento’s depth.

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HongKongKingsFan
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September 7, 2023 9:22 am

No…

Jones – 6′ 6″, 205 lbs
Durate – 6′ 5″, 190 lbs

Both guys has similart size….
But as we signed Jones for four years, and he is still young, he gonna play behinds Durate….

Durate has the NBA experience edge over Jones…

Jones is going to play with the Stockton Kings….

andy_sims
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September 7, 2023 9:41 am

Can Colby Jones crack the rotation?

The most important thing, as you pointed out, is that he doesn’t absolutely have to. Jones has a four-year deal, so there’s no huge rush to develop him, and hopefully he feels less pressure to constantly make things happen in limited minutes.

There’s a lot to like about CJ, and he’s in a great situation to learn and get stronger while he works to get regular minutes.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 7, 2023 9:53 am
Reply to  andy_sims

Agreed. The Kings can afford to wait a year or two to see if he really is an NBA player. If he even just rises to role player in a 10 man rotation it will be a steal for the Kings. Jones is slated to be owed just $2.4M his 4th year! If he doesn’t look that part after year 2, the 2 remaining years are unguaranteed. Excellent contract by Monte.

RobHessing
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September 7, 2023 10:25 am

If Jones cracks the rotation, it’s either because he obliterates expectations, or more likely that someone else above him failed to meet expectations.

Hamlet1989
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September 7, 2023 2:17 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Or injuries.

murraytant
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September 7, 2023 11:39 am

No

He was not a top-level player in last year’s draft. He has multiple skills- good at a lot, not too bad at any (except turnovers) but the good skills are not enough to get him playing time. There are similar multi-skilled players who have found success- Brogdon, for one and that may be CJ ultimate role. But multi-skilled guys need to play as glue guys, the fifth option. The Kings are not good enough to have a player on the court like that, at least in the upper rotations.

He needs a team that has 4 guys with high levels of skill, where he fits as the glue guy.
Over time, and he has some of that, if he can develop one skill that stands out, makes him unique or elevate all of his skills, he will find room in the rotation. Or if the Kings develop 4 super players and he fits as the connector piece.
All that said, he was not a bad pick. Best at that slot. The other option, primarily in the second round, is to look for one super skill- shooting, rebounding, defense (like Herb Jones or PJ Tucker) and have that one skill guy as your fifth starter.
In the long run, I expect- hope really- for a multi-skilled contribution on the second unit.
This year? no
Can he play in Stockton? Not sure.

jwalker1395
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September 8, 2023 5:30 am
Reply to  murraytant

Gotta say I totally disagree. I had a Top 20 grade on Jones. He can defend 1-3, playmake, rebound, consistently make the right decisions and be in the right places. You can teach basketball but you can’t teach IQ and he’s got it in spades. All of this was on display at Summer League.

Having the option to keep him in Stockton is a real boon since he’d be a rotation player on Kings teams of yesteryear. He’ll need some time to adapt, but I’d wager it won’t be too long. A little film, athletic training, and a year of playing at NBA pace will be good for him.

I don’t think CJ will ever be an All-Star or Top 2 option, but I see his floor as a high end role player. I can certainly see him becoming a starting caliber player one day, too. You look at his game and there simply aren’t many holes – how many second rounders have you ever been able to say that about?

CJ is a prototypical McNair pick, and I’d wager he’ll have a very long and productive career.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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September 7, 2023 1:28 pm

comment image
Chris Duarte <—-> Colby Jones

rockbottom
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September 8, 2023 9:09 am

Not a chance this season . Nice prospect but Stockton looms .

1951
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September 8, 2023 9:15 am

Not if the Kings are doing well.

If things go terribly wrong, then sure.

Last edited 9 months ago by 1951

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