How Does He Fit? James Jones Re-Signs With The Cavaliers


When LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers last summer, one of the things the team decided that they needed to do was change the dynamic of the locker room. During the previous four years a losing culture had set in, and some of the younger players on the team had developed a sense of entitlement, focusing on their individual success over the success of the team. To that end, the Cavaliers added several veterans to the team, including one who has just re-upped for his second year in Cleveland, small forward James Jones.

In Jones, the Cavaliers were hoping to bring in leadership and three point shooting, and he provided just that. Along with Mike Miller, Jones is frequently mentioned as a veteran who was instrumental in changing the culture of the Cavaliers’ locker room from one of entitlement to a group of professionals working together to try to win a championship.

The three point shooting was there as well. Jones shot a solid 36.8% from beyond the arc last season. While this number is well below his career mark of 39.8%, it’s still a bit above league average, and good enough to allow James to help space the floor effectively. Jones also shot 84.8% from the free throw line last season, right in line with his career average. This ability to space the floor earned Jones a semi-regular role in the rotation, particularly in ad second half of the season and the playoffs. Jones played 980 minutes in a total of 77 games in the regular and postseason combined, the most he had since the 2020-2011 season. When Kevin Love was lost for the playoffs, Jones provided a nice lift as a small ball power forward.

Still, there’s a reason Jones has played for the veteran’s minimum for several years now. While Jones is a very good three point shooter, he is really only effective when spotting up behind the arc. He is not as effective coming off of screens as other three point specialists, ala Kyle Korver or Ray Allen. He is also a poor dribbler, and does not create his own shot effectively. Jones also has no offensive game outside of three-point shooting, and his career mark of 39.8% on two-point shot attempts is abysmal for those kinds of shots.

Things are even worse on the defensive end. While Jones is a smart defender who knows where to be on the court, he is not an effective one. Jones is neither quick enough to defend wing players nor strong enough to defend most power forwards. His defensive RPM of -3.29 ranked eightieth out of eighty-one small forwards, ahead of only Terrence Ross.

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Even with all these shortcomings, Jones was a solid addition to the Cavaliers and will likely continue to be one. His game isn’t predicated on athleticism and should continue to age well. His three-point shooting swung several games for the Cavaliers last season, both in the regular season and in the playoffs, and by all accounts his leadership was essential to the team’s progress. For what will likely be the third string small forward making the veteran’s minimum, that’s all the Cavaliers could possibly hope for and more.

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