Old School Baller of the Week: Bobby Jones

Mr. Peabody and Sherman are nowhere to be found, but the Wayback Machine is in full effect on the "Fans' Voice" NBA blog. Starting now, every week during the NBA season we'll take a trip back in time and profile one old school NBA baller. Generally, the NBA ol' timers profiled here won't be your household stars with names like Chamberlain and West, but rather the forgotten stars that had a significant impact on the game. Because, boys and girls, without the NBA (...and ABA) pioneers that came before we wouldn't have the game we so love today. Knowledge is power, as they say. And believe us, we expect these posts to be a cathartic exercise for us as well, as we hope to use this forum to brush up on our own familiarity with NBA history. On to this week's "Old School Baller of the Week".

Name: Bobby Jones
Position: Small Forward/Powar Forward
Height/Weight: 6'9"/210 pounds
Teams: Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers

What made him so special?

Robert Clyde Jones, or otherwise known as Bobby, played 12 season of pro ball – 2 in the ABA, followed by 10 seasons, mostly with the Philadelphia 76ers, in the NBA. During that playing career, which lasted from 1974 to 1986, Jones was named to the All-NBA, or ABA, defensive team a whopping 11 times and was selected 5 times to the All-Star team. Jones was also the consummate team player, as his teams made the playoffs every single year he played pro ball. Jones won an NBA championship toward the end of his career in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers of Julius “Dr. J” Earving and Moses Malone, and was presented with the NBA sixth man of the year award that same year. Jones was Tayshaun Price before the Pistons All-Star was in his mamma’s womb and Bruce Bowen before the Spurs forward was just a toddler.

Tall, lanky defense-oriented players like the aforementioned Prince, or Gerald Wallace, or even Andres Biedrins, whether consciously or not, are playing the same type of basketball today that Jones revolutionized more than 25 years ago. Jones was such a great defender that following his on-court battles with Dr.J, when the Sixers played the Nuggets in the waning years of the ABA, instead of having the good doctor face Jones’ stifling defense as an opponent any longer, Philadelphia decided to trade for Mr. Jones. Jones, unlike players such as Ron Artest for example, didn’t use gimmicks like hand-checking, grabbing the uniform or bodying up on his opponent when playing defense. Instead, Jones used his quickness and sheer hustle to stay in front of his opponent defensively and used his length to challenge every shot that came into his space.During his 12 pro seasons, Jones averaged 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. At the same time, he shot 55% from the floor and 76% from the free-throw line.

Bobby Jones’ game is most like…

Tayshaun Prince. The career numbers are eerily similar, though Jones’ defensive averages are much more impressive at this point. Check it out for yourself. Prince, for his career, is averaging 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, .7 steals and .7 blocks. Compare those career averages to Jones’ numbers above. There are of course a few differences. Jones was more athletic and displayed that athleticism with his share of high-flying dunks, while Prince is a better shooter from beyond the arc. But, if Jones was playing today, watching him on the court probably would have been a lot like watching Prince work for the Pistons every night.

Dr. J on Jones.

“He’s a player who’s totally selfless, who runs like a deer, jumps like a gazelle, plays with his head and heart each night, and then walks away from the court as if nothing happened.” – Julius Earving.

If he played today.

We probably won’t say this about too many of our profile candidates, as we generally don’t think NBA skills translate well across eras, but we truly believe that if Bobby Jones played today he would as just as good, if not better. He would of course have to build on the lanky 210 pound frame, but Jones’ incessant hustle, unselfish play, crafty mid-range game and incredibly high basketball IQ would make him a seriously precious commodity. Every championship contending team would be falling all over themselves for Jones’ services, because he’s the type of player that would be the final cog in turning a winning team into an NBA champion.

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