Old school baller of the week: Sam Jones

Our “old school baller” for this week is former Boston Celtics great Sam Jones. The original “Mr. Clutch”, before Lakers great Jerry West was dubbed as such, Jones won an amazing 10 championships during his 12 seasons with the Celtics – a feat that will likely never be repeated again. So, while Sam Jones barely missed our list of the top 10 Celtics of all-time, let’s take a look at why he is easily the undisputed “old school baller of the week”.

Name: Sam Jones
Position: Shooting Guard
Height/Weight: 6'4"/200 pounds
Teams: Boston Celtics
What made him so special?

The aforementioned 10 championships in 12 seasons are impressive enough, but Jones had plenty of individual accolades to go along with the team success. He was a five time NBA All-Star, was selected to the All-NBA second team three times, was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984 and was named among one of the 50 Greatest Players of All-Time in 1996. Jones scored more than 15,000 points in his 12-year career, averaging 17.7 points per game while shooting 46% from the floor. The lean and muscular Jones also mixed it up in the paint grabbing an average of 4.9 rebounds, while dishing out 2.9 assists per game for his career.

But, success didn’t come right away for Jones. Although drafted with the 8th overall pick in the 1957 NBA draft, Jones, hailing from unheralded North Carolina Central college, came into the league virtually unnoticed. He proceeded to sit on the bench his first four seasons in the league, watching and learning from established Celtics greats Bill Sharman and Bob Cousy. But, in his fifth season when Sharman hung it up for good, Jones took the starting shooting guard spot next to Cousy and used his silky-smooth shot and stellar playoff performances to get all the way to the Hall of Fame. A master of the bank shot, Jones took on the leadership role later in his career teaming with another Celtic great K.C. Jones – a duo that fans affectionately called “the Jones boys”.

Sam Jones’ game is most like...

Ray Allen. They have a similar build, both muscularly lean. Jones was 6’4” and 200 pounds, while Allen is listed at 6’5” and 205 pounds. As mentioned previously Jones averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, while shooting 46% from the floor and 80% from the free-throw line. Allen for his career is averaging 21.4 points, 4.6 boards and 3.9 assists per game, while shooting 44.5% from the floor and a stellar 88.8% from the free-throw stripe. But outside of the pure numbers, the way they moved on the court and played the game were very similar. Offensively, both could hit a jumper from anywhere on the floor and was strong enough with the dribble to get to any point on the court. On the defensive side, both played a hustling style to say in position and didn’t overpower or outmuscle their opponents.

The biggest difference though between the two is that Sam Jones was a winner and proved that he could step up his game in the clutch. Ray Allen of course has very little successful playoff experience. In Allen’s defense though, it helped Jones that he played with Sharman, Cousy, Russell and later K.C. Jones on the legendary Celtics teams. Perhaps Allen, now teamed with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on the current Celtics will finally prove his playoff mettle this season.

Bill Russell on Sam Jones

"In the seventh game of a championship series, I'll take Sam Jones over anyone who stepped onto a basketball court. When the pressure was greatest, he was eager for the ball."

If he played today

At 6’ 4” Sam Jones was considered a tall guard for his time, but by today’s standards he would be undersized at the shooting guard position. Still, there isn’t one team in the league today that couldn’t use Jones’ uncannily accurate jump-shooting and clutch play. He would probably have to adapt his game to be able to play more at the point, as opposed to the off-guard spot, in today’s league and would have to bulk up to be able to hang defensively, but Jones could easily put up 15 to 20 points per game even today.

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