Duke Basketball: Tyus Jones set for nice payday after setting NBA record

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Should Tre Jones’ return to the Duke basketball program backfire, Tyus Jones should have ample funds to support him, especially now that the older brother enters free agency with an NBA season record on his résumé.

Former Duke basketball point guard Tyus Jones will find out his market value come July. Boosting the restricted free agent’s future contract — should easily exceed $5 million annually — is his knack for facilitating scoring while limiting mistakes.

Proof of his primary superpower lies in his new NBA record.

Jones wrapped up his fourth season with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night (a 99-95 road loss to the Denver Nuggets, leaving the team with a final record of 36-46) as the NBA’s all-time season leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (among players with a minimum 200 assists for a season).

Adding to the appeal of the new record for such a ratio — an insane 6.96 — is this would have just been Jones’ rookie season had he blessed the Blue Devils with four seasons. Also impressive is the margin Jones bested the previous record of 6.14, set by Terrell Brandon during the 2001-02 season, and the fact only three other players with a minimum 200 assists this regular season finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio greater than four.

As a side note to excite Duke fans, his bragging rights for this offensive-efficiency statistic — along with his 2015 national title — should add fuel to the fire inside the belly of his younger brother. Tre Jones topped the Blue Devils’ season record with a 3.62 assist-to-turnover ratio as a freshman yet turned down a chance to be a first-round pick in the upcoming draft by announcing this week his return for another shot at his own One Shining Moment.

But back to Tyus.

Although the 6-foot-2, 195-pound native of Apple Valley, Minn., only averaged 6.9 points and 4.8 assists for the season, as a starter for the final 15 games due to injuries to Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague, those clips were 11.2 and 7.3, respectively. Plus, that stretch included the longest playing stretch without a turnover — 129 minutes and change — of any NBA point guard this season.

And speaking to the 22-year-old’s value off the court, Jones — a model teammate and a favorite of his home-state fans — was the sole recipient this week of the franchise’s annual Flip Saunders Legacy Award for his “demonstrated excellence in community service” in part due to his helping start a game-worn-apparel auction to benefit Breast Health Awareness (his mother, Debbie, recently received a diagnosis of breast cancer).

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The jury remains out, though, as to whether Minnesota will retain his services by matching the best offer he receives from other franchises this summer.

Sure, there are plenty of better scoring guards in the league than Jones. But there aren’t any better at valuing possessions or garnering the overall respect of others.

The Timberwolves would be fools to let him go anywhere.

And when the time comes for the 2020 NBA Draft — unless his younger brother has at that point decided to further delight Duke fans by staying in Durham for yet another season — the franchise should seriously consider doing whatever it takes to ensure both Jones brothers delight Minnesota fans as Timberwolves for years to come.

After all, as Duke fans are well aware, jonesing for more Joneses is just a natural result from watching their similar, near-mistake-free playing style.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more updates, analyses, and opinions concerning former Blue Devils in the professional ranks.