Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyus Jones Player Review

Tyus Jones of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Tyus Jones of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Tyus Jones will hit restricted free agency this summer after an up-and-down season as a part-time starter for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the year with three natural point guards in the rotation: starter Jeff Teague, sixth-man Derrick Rose, and Minnesota’s favorite son, Tyus Jones.

Then, the Timberwolves acquired veteran Jerryd Bayless in the Jimmy Butler trade, and the Wolves suddenly had four NBA-caliber point guards.

But all four point guards were afflicted with significant injuries throughout the year. Teague played in a career-low 42 games, Rose played in 51, Bayless in 34, and Jones in 68 contests due to a sprained ankle suffered in Philadelphia in mid-January.

Jones started the year as the regular backup but ended up starting 23 games, although 15 of them came consecutively at the end of the year after Teague and Rose had each been shut down for the season.

While there were plenty of other issues late in the year, including injuries to Taj Gibson, the absence of Robert Covington, and even a few missed games from Karl-Anthony Towns, the fact remains that the Wolves were just 7-16 in games that Jones started.

However, Jones remains one of the better backup point guards in the league. He led the entire NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio, finishing the season at a crazy 6.96. Jones had a career-best in assist rate at 28.3 percent and a career-low in turnover rate at just 9.0 percent — an insane number for a point guard.

Jones’ usage rate ticked upwards slightly as he was more aggressive in trying to get to the rim. His 3-point shooting percent dipped, as did his frequency of attempts, however, which led to there being a clear cap on his effectiveness on the offensive end of the floor.

Jones remains a solid defender despite his diminutive stature. He ranked No. 26 among all point guards in overall ESPN Real Plus-Minus and No. 16 in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, outpacing plenty of starting guards from around the league.

Restricted free agency will be fascinating for Jones, whose per-game averages of 6.9 points and 4.8 assists are hardly gaudy, and whose shooting line of .415/.317/.841 isn’t terribly sexy, either. But advanced metrics have always loved Jones, and the most old-school of coaches will salivate at the idea of a point guard with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 6.96 running his squad.

Expect Jones to have a strong market from contending teams wanting to slot him in as their backup point guard, and potentially some less successful organizations considering an overpay to make him a starter. While it’s impossible to handicap what the Wolves will do at this point, matching a reasonable, “backup” offer would make a ton of sense, while matching starter-caliber money could very well be reckless.

Remember, the Wolves are paying Teague $19 million this year, and the status of Derrick Rose is up in the air, too. The point guard position will be one to keep an eye on this summer for the Wolves, to say the least.

Next. A look at the Timberwolves summer ahead. dark

Regardless of what Minnesota does, however, Tyus Jones should finally get paid fair market value, and that’s something to be celebrated.